In the past few weeks I’ve attended the Australian Institute of Training and Development conference in Sydney and the Australian Women and Leadership Symposium in Brisbane.
While there were different focuses there is also some common ground. For this newsletter I’ll distil a few of the key themes that emerged for me at both conferences and share some of my insights.
I hope you find them useful as you think about learning and leadership in your organisations.
2017 Australian Institute of Training of Training and Development
I’m at the airport waiting for my flight. I’m returning home from the AITD Learning Conference with my head and a note-book full of ideas and information. Behind me I hear a conversation that reflects a lot of what has been presented and discussed over the past couple of days.
A particular sentence catches my attention…
“Everything is changing so fast I have to be learning all the time”.
This could be the new mantra for all of us. Most of us are aware of how much information is available and how rapidly things can change.
How do we stay connected, learn well and find ways to effectively share information in a meaningful and worthwhile way?
Welcome to the 21st Century world of work and learning.
The conference included key notes from Connie Malamed, The eLearning Coach and Sahana Chattopadhyay, Proteeti and other presenters Dr Denise Myerson, Arun Pradhan – DeakinCo, Matthew Mason – Reality Creators, Nicole Davidson – Growing Beyond and Cheryle Walker – Digital Learning Strategists to name a few.
There was a strong focus on digital learning, which highlighted that there is a gap between business and the use of technology in terms of how learning is provided. Organisations are behind the curve, which presents as an intriguing paradox and challenge given the increasing realisation that digital technology, robotics, AI (automation and augmentation) will be major disruptors for individuals and businesses.
The 2015 CEDA (Committee for Economic Development in Australia) Australia’s Future Workforce report claims that around 40 per cent of the workforce faces the high probability of being replaced by computers/AI in the next 10 to 15 years.
Whether we buy into an optimistic or more pessimistic view or the good or evil of technology – one thing for sure we will all be impacted in some way and it’s probably best if we adopt a learning and flexible mindset to navigate our professional lives in the 21st Century.
A 2017 Global trend report from Deloitte ‘Rewriting the Rules for the Digital Age’ states that Australian organisations are under prepared for the pace of the digital age.
The reports outlines that the issue is not simply “reskilling” or planning new and better careers. Instead, organisations must look at leadership, structures, diversity, technology, and the overall employee experience in new ways.
Deloitte proposes that organisations are being pressed to rewrite the rules for how they organise, recruit, develop, lead, manage, and engage the 21st-century workforce. It requires a shift in mind-set and behaviour.
While this might seem daunting, there are great opportunities to be had by organisations that understand the changing nature of business, are prepared to be creative, and take positive action.
Rather than be overwhelmed we can take on board what Sahana Chattopadhyay suggests and start with micro changes that over time can create a powerful shift.
Remember a lot of organisations that currently exist will not be around in the next 15 years so now is the time to have a good look at what is going on in your business.
While its comforting to know that things maybe OK for now it is about what might be needed in the future. It’s easy to let today’s busyness cloud clear thinking for the future.
Regardless of what view we hold for a digital, automated/augmented world there is no doubt that technology is changing the nature of work, how we work, where we work and with whom we work. Some of the emergent themes that seem significant and worth exploring include the following:
- The why of what we do is crucial to success. Our sense of purpose as an individual and as an organisation is essential. It helps us to create meaning and value for our clients.
- Personal/Professional Networks hold knowledge – develop and understand who is in your network and whose network you are part of. Who can you help and who can help you?
- Recognise that the nature of most work is interdependent. People need to understand where, how, when and why sharing and collaboration is needed. People also want autonomy – both are possible.
- Understand what skills and capabilities are transferrable. Allow people to shine in the workplace by supporting them to explore and share their experiences and what they have to offer.
- Organisations and government institutions and policies are slower to respond to change than individuals. Individuals can and will learn and respond to change positively when they understand the why of change.
- Provide flexibility at all levels and areas of business in the workplace – everyone will benefit. Learning needs to be flexible, mobile, relevant and timely. Learning needs to align with the business and the individual.
- Help people to share knowledge and information through communities of practice, face-to-face interactions, beyond silos and look for ways people can engage easily through digital platforms. The curation of information is an exciting development and worth exploring.
- While digital and data fluency is necessary we also need to be human.
- Learn and unlearn – the cycle of learning – don’t get stuck.
- Technology can be a facilitator and is part of the solution it’s not everything. We need to become the Masters of Technology, not Technology the Master of Us.
- Work and learning are ultimately the same thing – the two worlds need to merge – how does learning impact on work and how is it integrated into work. This raised the question around the word ‘Learner’ and whether it is the most appropriate word to use as people may not see that as their primary focus. If not learning then what else? An interesting question to ponder and what that might mean in your organisation.
- Have bold goals, be clear with your purpose, and more importantly create tangible micro changes that enable people to move toward those goals. Remember a lot of organisations that are around now will not be around in the next 15 years.
I have a confession. I love the person-to-person world. My bias is to get together with people and see what emerges when people interact. It can be unpredictable and that is where creativity and opportunities converge – the intersection of people coming together to explore what might be possible and then to figure out what action needs to be taken.
I enjoy meeting people. It’s my preference for learning as well as educating and facilitating groups. However I am aware there are other approaches and digital learning has a place in the learning space. Ultimately how I embrace this brave new world will be negotiated through the interactions I have with my clients and understanding their needs.
Women & Leadership Australia Leadership Symposium
As a WLA Alumni I had the good fortune to attend the Australian Women’s Leadership Symposium as part of the Advanced Leadership program I recently participated in. It provided a chance to reconnect with WLA and the wonderful alumni cohort I am part of.
My WLA cohort is a diverse group with a good cross section of people from industries such as health, defence, education, mining, agriculture and business holding senior management roles.
What is striking about the group is its diversity which happens to be its strength. We respect and value the different experiences and insights each of us bring to the group. There is a real sense of sharing and interest in each other. The group is committed to finding ways we can get together even though we live in various locations across Australia.
Leadership was the main conference theme and we heard different stories from women of various professional areas share their experiences and views on leadership. An underlying message that came through strongly is the need for diversity.
Presenters included Professor Jan Thomas Vice Chancellor at Massey University; Sadhana Smiles, CEO Harcourts Group Victoria; Catherine Fox Journalist, Commissioner Katarina Carroll, Qld Fire and Emergency Services; Abbie Wright Diversity and Inclusion, Aurecon; Cath Brokenborough, Executive Lead Indigenous Engagement and Reconciliation Action Plan, Lend Lease; Dr Terrance Fitzsimmons UQ Business School and co-convenor of the Australian Gender Equity Council; and Annabel Crabb political writer, Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Here are a few of my favourite things that emerged from the 2017 Women’s Leadership Symposium.
- Leadership is complex. The whole person makes the leader. It’s worth getting to know yourself well. What inspires you as a leader? Why do you do what you do?
- Surround yourself with people who are different to you. It’s easy to be seduced by people who think and act the same. The underlying message is to make sure you get a range of views and opinions that differ from your own. Be prepared to be challenged. Don’t surround yourself with yes people.
- Listen, Listen and listen again
- Diversity and inclusion requires the whole deck of cards
- Stories have power – share stories of yourself and stories of success of failure.
- Look in the mirror – as a leader what did you do and what did you not do?
- We need to help people to become good leaders. It doesn’t necessarily just happen. A quote that sums this up well comes from one of the speakers Belinda Brosnan…”just because you have thousands of frequent flyer points doesn’t mean you can fly the plane”. Leadership is a continuous cycle of learning and leaders need to have a learning mindset. Who can you help and who can help you?
- Be OK with discomfort. Being an effective leader is not always comfortable.
- The type of leadership at the top permeates to the bottom. What is permeating in your organisation?
- One of the leadership stereotypes is the idea that women ‘get things done’ rather than ‘women are strategic’. Let’s dispel that right now – women can and are both.
- Be conscious of your biases and then do something about it.
- Being vulnerable as a leader may be scary and it’s worth exploring. Gently, gently and see what happens.
- Be aware of the language you use as a leader and then do something about. What are you saying or not saying?
- The paradox of leadership – a leader needs to build consensus and at times may not necessarily lead by consensus. Leadership is also about making decisions.
- Make it easy for people to do the right thing. Make it easy for people to learn.
- Link diversity and inclusion to KPI’s.
- Diversity in senior/executive management is crucial to long-term sustainable business success.
- Lack of diversity is not simply unfair it does not make good business – it’s not clever business. GDP increases by 11% with gender balance.
- Leaders enable others to call and question behaviour.
- Help people understand why change is needed – help them understand the purpose of change.
With all of that (and there is more) the big question is what legacy will you create and leave as a leader. What will people say about you now and in the future?
On another note if you didn’t get the chance to see the Global Leadership Effectiveness Summit that I was recently part of here is the link to that interview – click here.
- I am interested to know what is happening in your organisation in relation to these ideas.
- How is your organisation traveling?
- What are you doing or not doing?
- How can I help you?
If you would like to discuss any of this or ways that Maverick Minds can help your organisation and your greatest asset – your people – I am available.
If you would like to call or meet in person do get in touch. You can phone or email me on 0406 007 753 or email me here.
You can also visit www.maverickminds.com.au and see what else Maverick Minds has to offer.
Until next time
Dr Cathryn Lloyd