Trends in Executive Leadership

The Executive Leader of any organization carries a substantial amount of responsibility for the success of a business. Needless to say the investment in training and educating these leaders needs to be an ongoing priority. The landscape of business is constantly changing, therefore, it is important that the education of our leaders changes and adapts with it. In their article found in the Harvard Business Review, Mihnea Moldoveanu and Das Narayandas talk about how, “The need for leadership development has never been more urgent.”

As demand grows for executive education that is customizable, trackable, and measurably effective, new competitors are emerging. Business schools, consultancies, corporate universities, and digital platforms are all vying to provide skills development programs, and each player has certain advantages and constraints.


Moldoveanu, Mihnea and Narayandas, Das (2019, March). Educating the Next Generation of Leaders [Web log post]. Retrieved March 26, 2019, fromhttps://hbr.org/2019/03/educating-the-next-generation-of-leaders

Moldoveanu and Narayandas explain what the training and education opportunities for executive leaders have been as well as the trends we are seeing in this area now. They refer to as the “Personal Learning Cloud” or PLC as an up and coming method of executive leadership training. Essentially what they are referring to here are the online training courses and forums and any sort of social platforms where learning/education can be found at the click of a mouse. These are being sourced not only by traditional institutions but “upstarts” as they say. This clearly opens up the way for leaders to gain access to learning opportunities quicker and more conveniently and most likely at a lower cost point.

Companies are seeing a disconnect between the training their executive leaders are receiving and the actual practical application of that training on the job.


Chief learning officers find that traditional programs no longer adequately prepare executives for the challenges they face today and those they will face tomorrow. Companies are seeking the communicative, interpretive, affective, and perceptual skills needed to lead coherent, proactive collaboration. But most executive education programs—designed as extensions of or substitutes for MBA programs—focus on discipline-based skill sets, such as strategy development and financial analysis, and seriously underplay important relational, communication, and affective skills.
No wonder CLOs say they’re having trouble justifying their annual training budgets.
Executive education programs also fall short of their own stated objective. “Lifelong learning” has been a buzzword in corporate and university circles for decades, but it is still far from a reality. Traditional executive education is simply too episodic, exclusive, and expensive to achieve that goal. Not surprisingly, top business schools, including Rotman and HBS, have seen demand increase significantly for customized, cohort-based programs that address companies’ idiosyncratic talent-development needs. Corporate universities and the personal learning cloud—the growing mix of online courses, social and interactive platforms, and learning tools from both traditional institutions and upstarts—are filling the gap.


Moldoveanu, Mihnea and Narayandas, Das (2019, March). Educating the Next Generation of Leaders [Web log post]. Retrieved March 26, 2019, fromhttps://hbr.org/2019/03/educating-the-next-generation-of-leaders

It appears that more practical, ongoing (online) training is starting to come into favor versus the more traditional forms of education when companies are budgeting for their Executive Leadership training. The benefit of going this route is having a more flexible schedule as well a more tailor-made training program curated specifically for a particular business’s needs. This is will provide companies with a higher Return On Investment for the training of their Executive Leadership because it is less likely the leaders will be spending time and resources on material that will not translate directly into their roles within that company.

Additional Resources:
https://www.aesc.org/insights/thought-leadership