How to Train Leaders for Transformation


To transform organizations for both the new normal and the future of work, HR leaders must reconsider traditional leadership training, said Rashim Mogha, Skillsoft General Manager, Leadership & Business Portfolio, in a session at the HR Exchange Network Corporate Learning Spring online event.

“If there’s anything that we’ve learned [from the pandemic], it is how to be agile, how to be nimble, how to transform overnight to be successful as a business,” she adds.

In fact, businesses need culture, innovation, and agility to thrive, according to Mogha’s session at the event, “The Road to Transformative Leadership: Build, Coach, Reinforce.” The message was that all these pillars depend on effective leadership, which can only happen if organizations enable people to lead. It requires a shift in priorities.

“In the past, organizations – especially after they embarked on this journey to digital transformation – have focused more on technology than on people,” she said. “That’s why that’s not where we need to be when it comes to digital transformation.”

WATCH: The Road to Transformative Leadership: Build, Coach, Reinforce

Mogha shared data that proves the necessity of effective leadership. An organization’s leaders can influence many aspects of the business, even those that are not as obvious. For example, poor leadership can result in a 30% talent turnover. Also, it can cause an 8% annual revenue loss. On the other hand, better leadership can generate 3% to 4% improvement in customer satisfaction and can eliminate a 5% to 10% productivity drag.

Pain Points of Leadership Training

Still, companies rarely can provide effective leadership training. One problem is that different employers have different beliefs about how to lead. What executives learn at one organization may be useless when they move to another job elsewhere, said Mogha. Also, leadership programs may help participants learn more about themselves, but they don’t always result in lessons that can be immediately applied to the role they currently hold.

To educate people in a way that allows them to continuously upgrade their leadership skills and adjust to new roles, organizations should turn to a format for behavioral change, says Mogha. She breaks down the curriculum like this:

  • Awareness and Desire – Determine a potential leader’s skills gap with a 360-degree assessment.
  • Knowledge – Have participants take courses to build those skills and fill in the gaps.
  • Ability – Have peers assess one another’s progress and determine what skills could still use improvement.
  • Reinforcement – Allow students the chance to recognize their growth and practice skills they are still perfecting.

Rolling out these programs can be intimidating, Mogha admits. However, she suggests beginning with a core group of people who will be part of the leadership bench or a business unit that will be an area of focus in the next year or first-time managers, for example.

“Eventually, you have to scale it,” she added. “That’s how you build a culture of continuous learning, but you have to start small.”

Relating L&D to DEI

What many organizations are realizing is that leadership training is related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. To achieve DEI goals, the organization needs leaders to think outside of traditional boundaries.

“We have to have a 360-degree view of diversity. It’s not just launching a diversity program and making sure the numbers are where the company expects you to be,” she said. “It’s also about how diversity shows up in every conversation that you have, in every product that you have, in the UX, in the CX. That’s the conversation we have to start having.”

For instance, Mogha referenced a time when she was working in a group delivering solutions for people in rural Africa and India. Many came up with digital solutions. But the people living in those areas didn’t have access to the necessary technology or WiFi.

Another trend that will require additional leadership training is the personalized approach to employees and the need for empathy. Mogha talks about how she has one employee, who works remotely and needs to check in with her daily to feel connected and on the right path, whereas she has another who wants to meet only when there’s something in particular to discuss.

“I have to adjust my leadership style based on the individual requirements of my team members,” she said. “That’s how we should start looking at it. It’s not one size fits all.”

You can watch Mogha’s session, and view the others from the Corporate Learning Spring online event.

Photo by August de Richelieu for Pexels

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