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The Top 3 Priorities for Leadership Development in 2021 According to Learning Professionals

By The Regis Company - March 18, 2021

When we asked learning leaders across the globe about the impact of COVID-19 on learning and development in our 2020 State of Business and Leadership Development Survey, nearly 87% of respondents agreed that the pandemic has made effective leadership more important in 2021 than in previous years.

But how can we build better leaders right now? According to our survey respondents, there are three emerging priorities learning leaders must address to help employees face the challenges of remote work.

Soft skills and wellness

After the events of 2020, 66% of survey participants felt that they need additional support to cope and succeed. We found this reflected in their professional and personal well-being. In fact, three-fourths of the leaders we surveyed agreed that getting support in managing personal health, wellness, and work-life balance is very important right now.

Relating to ourselves, the world, and one another during this time is more difficult than usual, and it’s no surprise that human skills like communication, empathy, and adaptability are suffering. Perhaps this is why seven of the top ten most critical leadership skills for 2021 are classified as “soft,” or human, skills.

Find out what these skills are, plus the positive effects of prioritizing wellbeing in the workplace, in Building the World’s Best Post-Pandemic Leaders.

Diversity and inclusion

More than ever, organizations are interested in aligning their culture to the values of the workforce. In no uncertain terms, that workforce has demonstrated that diversity and inclusion should not be buzzwords, but mandatory policies in corporate operations.

Leadership development is every organization’s most potent way to bring these principles to life. As the Society for Human Resource Management puts it, leader education is the instrumental first step in creating diverse and inclusive work environments.

“At the end of the day, it’s the leader who’s on the front line with our employees. It’s the experience that the leader is creating that is going to make or break [your D&I initiatives.]”

 – Dianne Campbell, vice president of global diversity and inclusion at American Express

Want three actionable recommendations for fostering diversity and inclusion in your organization? Download our guide!

Adapting work and culture to the virtual environment

As you might guess from the information above, employees are experiencing uncertainty, anxiety, and even loneliness. Regarding job performance, over 70% of the learning leaders we surveyed reported that it’s very important to receive training on factors that will help them demonstrate value and keep their jobs. On the social side, our survey showed that 78% of learning leaders feel it’s very important to maintain culture, connection, and community while working remotely.

Leadership development can be a meaningful part of the solution, going beyond Zoom to introduce new technologies that provide richer learning experiences, with opportunities for individual and collaborative learning.

Check out our model for experiential online learning here.  

A free guide for learning leaders like you

If you found this post helpful, there’s more to help you get back to business as usual. Get actionable recommendations for addressing key trends shaping leadership development today by downloading Building the World’s Best Post-Pandemic Leaders.  

Just some of what you’ll learn:

  • Industry-wide effects of COVID-19
  • How learning leaders like you are coping with change and uncertainty
  • Top skills and priorities for leadership in the Next Normal
  • 4 key trends you’ll need to address in 2021
  • How you can address these challenges without going over budget


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