Leadership Development: We Need to Do Something, But What?

Feb 26, 2011

Armenian Road Sign

A Way Forward?

There is no magic bullet for developing workforce leaders – different people need different kinds of development opportunities, and resource constraints (not just money, time and expertise, too) are real. Workforce leaders recognize the need to do a variety of different things but are challenged by the pace of change in the workplace, the expectations of younger workers, and the new connective technologies that call for a re-thinking of effective learning and mentoring practices.

Is it all DIY?

In addition, senior leaders named professional development assets they found valuable that no longer exist. A two-week Harvard program for workforce leaders, JETT-Con and Workforce Innovation conferences were specifically named, but more frequently, leaders cited fewer state-level, association-based, or regional development opportunities (or budget constraints that restricted access to thes opportunities).

There are also new (and more varied) development approaches, from Corporation for a Skilled Workforce's Workforce BootCamp to BarCamp-style self-organized learning events.

But workforce leaders are struggling to figure out what combination of development opportunities works for whom – and how to resource them. In addition, leaders are looking to cultivate leadership not just in their own ranks but within their key industry sectors and educational institutions, and on their boards. Finally, there are a whole new set of issues linked to workforce deveopment but without deep roots in the field – sustainability, social innovation, entrepreneurship, etc. Leadership development is a bigger job than it once was (and often, leaders are doing it themselves).

They could use some help.


"We need to spend more time and resources in our communities and nationally really developing leadership in workforce. We're just beginning to have the kinds of jobs, talent, and skills discussions that should be ongoing. The leadership piece is the next place we need to go." – Paul, WIB Director

"We have to build a new understanding of workforce in our communities. We have on old pipeline sense of how people make it through ... Maybe leadership is adaptability – the capacity to ramp up and learn new things quickly." Shari, VP Member Association