Upcoming summit: Effective leadership through L&D

VP of training at Goldman Sachs: 'You can either find your leaders, develop them and keep them — or expect them to leave'

Upcoming summit: Effective leadership through L&D

Keeping employees is obviously a priority for most employers but when it comes to identifying and retaining future C-suite members, the need is even more acute.

And that’s particularly true now, according to Eric Barney, vice-president, head of instructional design and training delivery at Goldman Sachs in Draper, Utah.

“We’re working with a very different generation of individuals that are coming into the workforce than we have in the past and this new generation, they seem to have a stronger work-to-live mentality, as opposed to a live-to-work mentality, which means that dedication and devotion to an employer might be less with them,” he says.

“So, training has had to evolve and modify its approaches to address a workforce that maybe comes in with a little different view.”

Barney will be one of the panellists at the upcoming Learning and Development Summit Canada and he shared some of his insights with Canadian HR Reporter.

The panel, which also includes Kevin Bishop, principal talent development partner at LinkedIn, and Katie Schaber, vice-president, instructional design at Edelman, will be happening on April 13.

How to identify leadership qualities

To best take advantage of this new type of worker, training successful leaders on what they need to succeed is important, says Barney.

“This requires leaders that don’t simply have an understanding of the work and understanding of the job and understanding of the role — or even just a simple understanding of what this new generation wants. We need leaders that are willing and able to apply what these employees need. That includes working with employees on work-life balance, and maybe being creative about how the job functions or operates.”

The L&D team should work “hand-in-hand” with HR and this makes them a key member of the learning equation, says another training expert.

By ensuring these leaders are highly trained in finding out how to reach young workers, this will go a long way toward retention, says Barney.

“It’s often been said that people leave managers not jobs, or people leave leaders and not jobs, and I think that is more true with today’s generation entering the workforce than it ever has been.”

When looking at who will become a future senior leader, it’s good to know what makes them that way, he says.

“Leaders don’t just oversee the work like a manager does, leaders have to inspire and motivate and by doing this, they create drive and purpose in the work for their teams and for the areas that they oversee.”

And while “the ability to inspire, to motivate, create drive, to add value” are hard competencies to quantify, “they’re even harder to ‘train,’” says Barney, and it’s the best way to populate a future leadership team.

‘Play the long game’ for leadership

For HR professionals, “play the long game,” says Barney.

“The biggest takeaway is that leadership development is not accomplished through a one-time event, a one-time training or a one-time conference. The skills and competencies are developed through consistent exposure, consistent practice and consistent application over time. Play the long game with your leadership development, and don’t fall for any train-quick scheme when it comes to leadership development because I just don’t believe that there’s a train-quick option for leadership.”

And if this effort fails, an unsatisfied future director will often walk out the door.

“You can either find your leaders, develop them and keep them or expect them to leave, and go lead somewhere else,” he says.

Barney will participate at the upcoming L&D Summit on the panel discussion “Achieving effective leadership development through L&D” which will also look at:

  • How to identify and then develop leadership competencies to ensure strategic imperatives are achieved  
  • Building critical skills of managers and employees for career growth opportunities  
  • Integrating practical/experiential leadership development and creating a culture that encourages coaching throughout the organization.

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