Strategic Human Capital Insights

6 Issues Facing Leadership & Development


This blog was co-authored by Joanne Flynn, Jim Bosserman and Debbie Gower.  This article brings together perspectives and research from three strategic performance and learning and development professionals.

What is the role of Learning & Development (L&D) in an organization’s growth and transformation?

What is the role of L&D in dealing with continuous change?

6 Key L&D Strategic Issues

Learning & Development is critical to an organization’s success. Although the “war for talent” focused attention and efforts on recruiting since the late 1990’s[1], the “war to develop talent”[2] recently emerged more prominently on CEO agendas. Why?  Concerns over talent shortages and skill gaps have created obvious obstacles to achieving business performance and transformation goals.

As a result, the investment and ROI to elevate organizational learning functions has become just as, if not more, important as “buying” talent through the recruiting function.

1. The L&D / Business Agility Connection

Strategically focused L&D targets and tracks an organization’s business agility. This is critical for an organization to achieve business growth goals or deliver an anticipatory response to environmental and/or internally generated changes.  Today, L&D must be seen as a business imperative.

2. L&D’s Potential for Organizational Impact

Admittedly, L&D does not singularly enable an organization’s success. It is, however, clearly and significantly one of the most valuable tools due to its impact on the “minds and hearts” of the workforce.  Effective L&D importantly touches both the “mind and heart” when it can answer two employee questions:
1.  “What do I need to do my job?”
2.  “What’s in it for me personally?”

Organizational performance and productivity expectations demand answers to the first question. Company culture and employee engagement goals respond to the second.

Download the Learning & Development Checklist


3. The L&D Proposition

When an organization is going through change, its ability to strategically leverage L&D to accelerate the business though the cycle of change can be a critical differentiator.  Employees who feel satisfied and successful are more engaged and perform at a higher level, faster.

4. L&D Business Premises

  1. Accelerating through the cycle of change can move an organization to peak performance faster.
  2. Peak performance delivers desired and planned organizational strategic results.  
  3. L&D can prepare an organization to help balance overt optimism and lessen the depths of unfounded pessimism.
  4. L&D plays the biggest role through building competencies at the individual and organizational levels, speeding both through the typical downward drop, and accelerating movement toward peak performance.

Viewed this way, L&D must be considered a strategic initiative integral to any change event.  

5. L&D, “minds and hearts” and peak performance

L&D plays off both the “minds and hearts” of people. The “mind” can create capable and competent individuals while the “heart” can invoke a positive attitude and excitement. These are key elements impacting the organization’s ability to achieve peak performance and desired outcomes.

6. Are you truly a learning organization?

When organizations use L&D more strategically, where L&D is focused on both developing the competencies and the application of those competencies in the new strategy or environment, these organizations realize a significant lift in performance.  In addition, they meet the expectations of the workforce who have grown to expect L&D from a learning organization.

[1] Steven Hankin, McKinsey & Company, 1997
[2] Deloitte, Resetting Horizons – Human Capital Trends 2013


Do you want to better understand the 6 key strategic issues facing learning & development leaders? We invite you to download the complete research article to get the latest learning and development information for your organization.

Download the Complete Research Article >>

Topics: Learning & Development, Organizational Alignment & Effectiveness

Posted by Joanne Flynn

Joanne Flynn

In 2014, Joanne Flynn founded Phoenix Strategic Performance, a strategic human capital advisory firm. Prior to this, Joanne was Vice President at Goldman Sachs for 10 years responsible for global learning and development. She then led the consulting practice of Phoenix Group International, a consulting firm specializing in global financial service. Joanne is now taking best practices from the people-intensive financial services industry and adapting those best practices to startup and growth businesses. She is a thought leader in the areas of strategic organizational alignment, organizational agility, human capital gap analysis, leadership challenges for the new workplace and transformation leadership.

Subscribe to Updates

Recent Posts

Download the Human Asset Management Strategy eBook

Human Asset Management eBook

Download Your Digital Copy