As learning and talent leaders, we fight daily for truth, justice and the company way. We strive to make a difference in the lives of employees, relying on our good intentions and abilities. Yet, the dark forces of ignorance and chaos are growing stronger and often we find ourselves falling short in our mission to serve – as well as our own career aspirations.
Perhaps it is time to step back and acquire new super hero powers.
For the past three years, I have had the privilege serving as faculty for the CLO Accelerator Program and been part of empowering the next generation of learning and talent super heroes. Participants join the Accelerator program with the prime objective to take their capabilities and career prospects to a higher level – achieving an enterprise-wide leadership position and/or performing with high impact.
In other words they strive to be faster than a speeding disruption; more powerful than a CFO cost mandate; able to leap over inertia in a single bound.
But getting to the CLO-level and doing well requires more than the standard issued set of human abilities. Much as in a DC or Marvel story, the transformation to the top learning and talent role requires the acquisition and mastery of a set of uncommon abilities. Here are the top three super hero powers we aim to instill during the Accelerator program as well as a few key questions to consider as you develop your own set of learning and talent super powers.
X-Ray Vision. Super Heroes can see more than mere mortals. Their vision is broader, stronger and more penetrating. Super CLO’s and talent executives also have a special power of vision. They have the ability – and habit – to see beyond the inertia of the status quo and raise their perspective to a strategic business level that matters. In the Accelerator program we start with this topic of strategic perspective, providing practical tools and sharing ‘lessons learned’ of crafting effective strategic game plans. As you reflect on sharpening your own strategic vision, reflect on some of the questions we pose to participants:
- What current and emerging trends in my organization and industry will provide challenge and opportunity to our business? What are the potential ways learning and talent development can better prepare our employees to respond?
- How clear are the linkages between the business strategic plans and our learning and development offerings? How can we refine the ‘so what’ and ‘so that’ of our work?
- How can we more quickly and decisively make clear strategic choices on what to do and not do in our work to elevate our impact?
- To what degree am I regularly and deeply taking a ‘balcony-level’ view of my work and seeing what’s next vs. staying on the ‘dance floor’ of daily activity and busyness?
Super Human Strength. Superman can fly and bend steel; Wonder Woman stops bullets with her bracelets and can toss 50,000 lb boulders; Thor wields one mean hammer to battle foes. They use these gifts for the good of all with incredible influence. Super CLO and talent executives deploy their highly refined influence to overcome the forces of darkness (i.e., CFO cost mandates) and bring the light of learning and growth to the forefront of enterprise priorities. In the Accelerator program, participants are challenged to go beyond ‘being at the table’ to practice executive influence through a engaging simulation woven through the learning event. For your personal strength-building routines, start by reflecting on some of the questions posed in the program:
- In order to craft and sell a relevant learning and development strategy, who are the executive-level stakeholders you needs to connect with more frequently and meaningfully? To what extent do they recognize that you grasp and value their priorities and concerns as you communicate your work?
- Where are the gaps in your executive presence that need addressing? How can you invest in additional learning and feedback? How can you observe and deploy a more influential approach that works for your unique culture and personal style?
- How do you increase your involvement and ‘face-time’ with key influencers internally – up, across and beyond the traditional boundaries of your function?
Power from Association. The best super hero stories are ones where individual heroes band together to overcome an omni-powerful threat that no one could face alone. From the Incredibles, the Fantastic Four to the Avengers, the journey from self-sufficiency to interdependence transformed each super hero to achieve a new level of maturity and power. Likewise, aspiring and newly formed learning and talent leaders can’t go it alone. To successfully navigate the every increasing pace of change and disruption, the best learn from each other and lean on each other. Through the Accelerator program, we forge new networks of mentors, peers and resources to share best practices, stretch thinking and uncover new approaches. The bonds are quickly formed over the formal program and then extended through intentional follow up support and team coaching. As you consider your current circle of support and how to extend it, use the following questions as thought-starters:
- Who is on my is list of ‘go-to’ peers and coaches for support and wisdom? How extensive and diverse is the list? How well does this team match my future plans and aspirations? What 2-3 new capabilities would enrich my network in the coming year?
- In looking at my calendar for the past few months, to what degree did I reach out to renew and leverage my network? How can I allocate more time and effort to learn from others facing the same challenges of change and disruption vs. figuring it out alone?
- To what degree am I serving as a support and mentor to others? What can I offer others and who could most benefit? What would be a few simple steps I could take to be on someone else’s ‘go-to’ list?
The universe needs more of what we have to offer. The mission of learning and growth is a great quest. To fulfill that mission, we need to expand beyond what abilities got us to this stage and invest in new powers and abilities. So whether it’s through a formal training program such as the CLO Accelerator or a self-guided development regiment guided by key questions, remember the words of Franklin Richards (of the Fantastic Four), “The door is more than it appears. It separates who you are from who you can be. You do not have to walk through it … you can run!”