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ALX Training / News / How to Acquire Leadership Support for Transformational Learning Initiatives

How to Acquire Leadership Support for Transformational Learning Initiatives

by Mark Jones on Nov 21 2023


In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, where change is constant and innovation is key to survival, organisations must invest in continuous learning initiatives to stay competitive.

In 2023, the global training market was valued at an estimated £294.1bn, and UK firms spent approximately £16.65bn on training, with an estimated £48.7bn being spent on leadership development programmes globally each year.  This investment is only expected to increase in the next few years, but with such a heavy investment, why are not all transformational initiatives working? And why is it leading to such heavy investment?

Transformational learning is a process that goes beyond traditional training methods and is essential for fostering adaptability and innovation.  However, the success of any learning initiative heavily depends on the funds available to implement the initiative, in addition to the support and commitment of your business leadership team.  In this article, we explore the critical role of leadership support in driving transformational learning and discuss the key factors necessary to garner the backing of business leaders for new L&D learning initiatives.

Over the years, I have observed and discovered that it is essential for transformational learning to go beyond just the acquisition of new skills; instead, it must involve a collective shift in mindset, attitudes, and behaviours from across the organisation.  Only by adopting this approach can we encourage employees to embrace change, take measured risks, and think creatively. However, to achieve this, organisations must implement learning initiatives that are dynamic, personalised, and aligned with the business’s strategic goals, both short- and long-term.  Gaining leadership support, however, won’t be easy, and for any L&D initiatives put forward, the road ahead will be extremely challenging but crucial to the business’s success.

Leadership support is the linchpin of any organisational initiative, and an L&D initiative is no exception.  When leaders actively endorse and champion learning initiatives, it sends a powerful message throughout the business (we are leading by example).

Employees are far more likely to engage with and commit to the learning process when they see that their own leaders value and prioritise continuous professional development.

How should we go about getting our business leaders onboard?

It is my experience that the first step towards initiative success is to understand the current and future corporate landscape. What are our business goals and objectives today, tomorrow, three years, or five years down the line? And how can we align our new learning initiatives with these business goals? These are the initial questions that we have to answer.

Leaders are far more likely to support learning initiatives that directly contribute to the achievement of organisational objectives, but only if we can demonstrate a clear connection between learning outcomes and business success. We need to find ways to make it easier for our organisation leaders to see the value proposition and potential return on their investment ahead of their decision to support your initiative.  So, be sure to stack the initiatives in your audience’s favour and document every benefit you can to reach that all-important decisional tipping point.

Once you have established the strategy or initiative that offers the greatest returns, the need to communicate the ROI of learning will be vital. Business leaders often prioritise initiatives that promise a return on investment (ROI). To gain their support, L&D professionals must articulate the potential benefits of transformational learning in terms of improved performance, increased productivity, and enhanced innovation and demonstrate the financial value once achieved. This can be accomplished by incorporating data relating to a clear set of measurable KPI’s or quantifiable outcomes into your presentation in order to help leaders understand the tangible impact of the learning initiatives on the bottom line.

We can then turn our attention to developing an approach that aligns the initiatives with supporting and creating a culture of learning.  How can we make our initiative sustainable both now and in the future?  All leaders play a pivotal role in shaping corporate cultures, and only by fostering a culture that values continuous learning and development can our initiatives succeed. Our leaders need to be held accountable for setting the tone for the entire organisation, which not only involves endorsing learning initiatives but also actively participating in them.  When a leader demonstrates a commitment to his or her own development, it sends a powerful message across the business that learning is a priority for everyone.

Emphasize the relationship between learning and adaptability.

In today’s dynamic business environment, adaptability is a key driver of success. Leaders need to understand that transformational learning enhances the adaptability of the workforce, making the organisation more resilient to change.  Highlighting this connection between learning initiatives and an organisation’s ability to navigate and thrive in a rapidly changing landscape is critical to gaining leadership support. When employees are constantly learning and growing, they are able to adapt to change and meet new challenges with greater resilience. Transformational learning helps organisations become more innovative and creative, and when employees are encouraged to think critically and outside of the box, they are more likely to come up with new ideas and solutions to problems, build a stronger culture of learning and collaboration, and engage in meaningful learning experiences together while remaining motivated and productive.

In summary

Leadership support is instrumental in the success of transformational learning initiatives within organisations, and only by aligning learning programmes with:

  1. Business goals and objectives
  2. Communicating the ROI of learning
  3. Creating a culture of continuous development
  4. Emphasizing the link between learning and adaptability

Can L&D professionals secure the backing of corporate business leaders?  In so doing, they pave the way for a more agile, innovative, and resilient workforce, thus positioning the business for sustained success in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

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