Executive Coaching Article 3: Importance of Learning and Development, and Executive Coaching, for Organisations

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Evolving Corporate Strategies in the Face of Disruption: A Focus on Learning and Development

The landscape of modern organisations is defined by constant change, influenced by disruptive events such as pandemics and shifts in social equity, technology, and sustainability. Amid these shifts, corporate strategies are undergoing continuous transformation to ensure resilience and success. Integral to these strategies is the role of learning and development, essential for achieving business objectives. In this article, we delve into the imperative of nurturing a learning culture, particularly for senior leaders and executives, and explore diverse learning interventions that modern organisations can leverage.


Nurturing a Learning Culture: A Strategic Imperative

In the face of evolving challenges and rapidly changing dynamics, organisations are recognising the urgency of cultivating a learning culture. This culture thrives on continuous education, experience, and exposure (Sutherland & Jelinek, 2015). Learning is not just an individual pursuit; it extends across teams, departments, and the entire organisational framework. Its importance is underscored by its impact on business performance, innovation, talent engagement, and retention.


Learning, when harnessed at all levels of the organisation, fosters an environment of adaptability and growth. It becomes the cornerstone of the board’s stewardship, aligning the learning strategy with organisational values and culture. Organisational development, an ongoing process of adaptation, relies on an insightful evaluation of readiness for change (Zephir et al., 2011). This process serves as the foundation for identifying targeted learning interventions that enable transformation.


Coaching in the Learning and Development Strategy

Coaching occupies a significant position within the spectrum of learning and development tools. Integrated into a broader leadership and development strategy, coaching serves as a powerful resource for workforce enrichment (Grover & Furnham, 2016). I have benefited from many years of executive coaching and certainly intend to avail of this in the future. It provides me with a different context on work and personal situations and keeps me grounded and aligned to my personal vision and purpose. However, its effectiveness is maximised when woven seamlessly into the organisation’s overall strategy and harmonised with other learning approaches.


Crafting Senior and Executive Development

 Focusing on senior and executive resources within the organisation, a range of learning avenues are available, driven by education, experience, and exposure. Identifying leadership development requirements is pivotal for high-potential executives, both within and outside the organisation. With evolving technology and changing attitudes towards knowledge management in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, distance and non-distance learning have gained prominence (Bratianu & Bejinaru, 2021).


Leveraging Communities of Practice

Communities of practice are dynamic platforms for fostering learning and knowledge exchange (Rouser & Dorsey, 2003). These communities can be interwoven into the fabric of modern organisations, with senior leaders and executives contributing their thought leadership. Such an approach aligns with the 70-20-10 rule, advocating exposure, experience, and education as the pillars of effective learning.


Diverse Learning Interventions

The choice of learning interventions depends on desired outcomes. The criteria encompass learning modality, environment, interaction level, cost, and time (Martin et al., 2014). A plethora of interventions exists, ranging from workshops, on-the-job training, online learning, to work shadowing, exchange programmes, mentoring, coaching, and sponsorship. These interventions can address various dimensions of learning, catering to individual, team, and organisational needs.


Online Learning: A Shifting Landscape

Online learning, embraced for its cost-effectiveness and scalability, is gaining momentum. Compliance training is well-suited to online platforms due to their efficiency and adaptability (Cooley, 2020). The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online learning, particularly for senior management and executives, fostering accessibility and flexibility (Hotter, 2020). While online learning offers advantages such as reduced travel and enhanced accessibility, it should be complemented with efforts to mitigate potential limitations, including lack of face-to-face interaction.


Work Shadowing: Learning Through Exposure

Work shadowing offers a hands-on approach to learning through exposure, with high-potential resources shadowing executives to gain insight into their roles (Rekalde et al., 2017). This immersive experience fosters a deeper understanding of organisational dynamics and leadership practices, enhancing individuals’ growth and development.


Workshops: Cultivating Team Learning 

Workshops serve as hubs for education, experience, and exposure, facilitating team learning and fostering psychological safety and relatedness (Chen et al., 2021). Effective workshops provide individuals and teams with the time to contemplate, establish a Thinking Environment, and enhance their problem-solving skills (Kline, 2008).


Strategic Learning for Success

Learning and development have emerged as non-negotiable elements in navigating the ever-evolving business landscape. Developing a learning culture, investing in senior leaders and executives, and embracing diverse learning interventions are crucial for organisational growth, resilience, and innovation. By recognising learning as a strategic imperative and aligning it with broader corporate strategies, organisations can empower their workforce to succeed in a dynamic and transformative environment. Executive coaching can be a key driver for success. As learning becomes a driving force, organisations will not only navigate disruptions but also shape a sustainable future built on knowledge and adaptability.


Bratianu, C., & Bejinaru, R. (2021). COVID‐19 induced emergent knowledge strategies. Knowledge & Process Management28(1), 11–17. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,sso&db=bth&AN=148454325&site=ehost-live&custid=s1020214

Chen, H., Jiao, J., Yang, N., & Wang, X.-H. (2021). How Identity Conflict and Identity Synergy Influence Innovative Performance of Employees With Multiple Team Membership. Psychological Reports124(2), 792–808. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,sso&db=bth&AN=148802298&site=ehost-live&custid=s1020214

Grover, S., & Furnham, A. (2016). Coaching as a developmental intervention in organisations: A systematic review of its effectiveness and the mechanisms underlying It. In PLoS ONE (Vol. 11, Issue 7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0159137

Hotter, A. (2020). Covid-19 to accelerate technology in mining, former Norsk Hydro CEO says. Metal Bulletin Daily, N.PAG-N.PAG. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,sso&db=bth&AN=143758055&site=ehost-live&custid=s1020214

Kline, N. (2008). Time to think : listening to ignite the human mind. Cassell.

Martin, B. O., Kolomitro, K., & Lam, T. C. M. (2014). Training Methods: A Review and Analysis. Human Resource Development Review13(1). https://doi.org/10.1177/1534484313497947

Rekalde, I., Landeta, J., Albizu, E., & Fernandez-Ferrin, P. (2017). Is executive coaching more effective than other management training and development methods? Management Decision55(10). https://doi.org/10.1108/MD-10-2016-0688

Rouser, K., & Dorsey, A. (2003). Strong threads of learning-knowledge transfer within communities of practice. In IEMC ’03 Proceedings. Managing Technologically Driven Organizations: The Human Side of Innovation and Change, Engineering Management Conference, 2003. IEMC ’03. Managing Technologically Driven Organizations: The Human Side of Innovation and Change, Managi (p. 141). IEEE. https://doi.org/10.1109/IEMC.2003.1252248

Sutherland, I., & Jelinek, J. (2015). From Experiential Learning to Aesthetic Knowing: The Arts in Leadership Development. Advances in Developing Human Resources17(3), 289–306.

Zephir, O., Minel, S., & Chapotot, E. (2011). A maturity model to assess organisational readiness for change. International Journal of Technology Management55(4), 286–296. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,sso&db=eoah&AN=25635065&site=ehost-live&custid=s1020214


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