Growth Mindset
Leadership Development

How do Leaders keep pace in such a fast-changing environment?

Lisa Danels
published on December 18, 2019

Buckminster Fuller created the “Knowledge Doubling Curve”; he noticed that until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Today things are not as simple as different types of knowledge have different rates of growth. For example, nanotechnology knowledge is doubling every two years and clinical knowledge every 18 months. But on average human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. According to IBM, the build-out of the “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours. 

So with knowledge drastically increasing and the half-life of skills diminishing, how do leaders possibly keep up with the changing times while still being required to do more with less. This is a big dilemma for organizations and for leaders.

Today, we are used to getting our information in bite-sized portions. The days of week-long leadership programs are over. So, we need to create meaningful quick learning that has an impact.

Personalized and High-Quality Content
According to findings from the High-Impact Learning Organization study by Bersin by Deloitte, employees find it most difficult to learn, NOT because there isn’t enough content, but because there is TOO MUCH of it, and they cannot find what is valuable. So it’s critical for the Learning and Development departments to curate content that is personalized and linked to a validated assessment. It’s also important that content is high-quality and addresses different types of modalities (video, book summaries, blogs, books, articles, simulations).

On-the-Go and Reflection
Learning on-the-go is critical for keeping relevant in a world that is rapidly changing. One key element is finding the right content that will have the biggest impact but also reflecting on the content and making it meaningful in leaders’ everyday life. One suggestion is for leaders to keep a journal on their key learnings and reflect on this once a week. It could be a physical book, yes writing does help the brain cement the learning or it can be a note section in their smartphone. Either way, leaders are committing themselves to be life long learners.

Sharing and Experimenting
With all our technology we sometimes forget that learning is social. So it’s also good for leaders to share their new learnings with colleagues and especially their team. This way others can experiment together which reduces the risk of looking stupid and failing when trying out new skills.

Mindset Shift
Look for experiences and content that challenge leaders’ current mindset and beliefs. I call this mindbending and if leaders want to keep expanding their zone of comfort then they need to challenge their mind to think differently and constantly challenge their assumptions

Virtual Learning
Also, it’s important we bring virtual reality into leadership development so we can interact with colleagues, from the comfort of home, while still using a multi-sensory experience in a risk-free environment.

Growth Mindset
The last and most important is having a growth mindset. Leaders need to believe that they and their direct reports can learn new skills with the appropriate effort and focus.