Saturday, December 20, 2014

Finding Innovative Ideas to Develop our Leaders

This  #CCLKOW weekend post continue the Twitter based professional conversation between military leaders in the United States and faculty and students at Kings College in London. This piece is from  Julie Schwetz, a Major in the United States Army currently assigned as faculty to the United States Military Academy. She has an MBA from Harvard Business School and has led soldiers in combat  in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. If you’re interested in participating just “tweet” your response with #CCLKOW

‘Our No. 1 priority is , and will continue to be, leader development.’
-Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army

The leader's responsibility to develop others is firmly stated in the U.S. Army’s ADRP 6-22, Army Leadership. Intuitively, we understand that developing others is a leader’s responsibility; how else can we learn from each other if we don’t do our part to share our experiences? The tried and true method of carving out time in schedules and using standardized presentations to train is a failsafe. But, nothing says snooze more than a cookie-cutter PowerPoint slide deck given by a well-intentioned individual.  As leaders, we must continue to find innovative ways to train and inform our soldiers; we must adopt new techniques and methodologies that resonate with our audience.

The idea of sharing lessons learned and improving techniques and technologies based on others’ operational experiences is nothing new. Innovations, like the wristwatch and personal GPS devices, were a result of the ingenuity of soldiers on the battlefield. What concerns me today is that the leader development message is getting lost in translation. It’s time that we bring our innovative spirit to leader development programs. 

Millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, consume information more dynamically than previous generations. We use multiple screens at one time. We have shorter engagement spans. We multitask. We are social creatures. We should take advantage of new technologies, like the ubiquitous nature of video archiving, to both communicate and engage with junior leaders. In fact, the CC/PL Team has already curated an on-demand video series that covers a broad range of topics that will shape and guide leader development efforts. These important topics range from building resilient teams to ethical decision-making and leader accountability.

While the idea of integrating this innovation will surely increase engagement, we must not lose sight of the importance of face-to-face discussion. A recent survey conducted by Randstad US, the third-largest HR services and staffing company in the United States, and Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm, suggests that younger generations prefer face-to-face communication with their managers. Luckily, the CC/PL Team has already crafted facilitation sheets to accompany each video in their LPD series. The integration of multimedia into training efforts will surely engage leaders across generations; these LPDs will exceed all your expectations.  Check out this Army magazine article on the LPDs for more information.   

Questions for discussion:

How can we develop and equip leaders to be more innovative in developing leader development programs for their organizations?

How can we develop leaders to become early adopters of new ideas and technologies that can be used to increase junior-leader engagements  instead of being in the late majority?

What are some other examples of innovative leader development programs that increase junior- leader engagement?

Jonathan Silk is a Major in the U.S. Army. He has served as a Cavalry Scout platoon leader , and has commanded both a Tank Company and an Infantry Company. He is currently an Assistant Professor and serving as the Operations Officer for the Center for the Advancement of Leader Development and Organizational Learning (CALDOL) at the United States Army Military Academy, West Point, NY. He was a recipient of the calendar year 2009 General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award.The views expressed in this blog are not representative of US Army or DOD.

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