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

Executive Interview Tips

Executive Interview

There is a plethora of resources that exist for how to prepare for an executive level interview including books, online articles such as this, interview coaches, seminars, YouTube video.  We are sharing a few points we feel are important to your interview success.  

Be Prepared to answer unstructured questions

When open ended questions are inevitably asked such as “Tell us about yourself”, be prepared to seize the moment and offer some positive insight, open up about your career trajectory, and focus on your strengths. Be careful though, accordingly to Fast Company There are many ways to respond to this question correctly and just one wrong way: by asking, “What do you want to know?”  You are better off considering the type of information a hiring manager or recruiter is looking for.  Think about the qualities they want in a candidate and apply your strengths to answer this common question.

Let your accomplishments be known

It’s no surprise that interviewers and hiring managers are looking for someone effective to bring on board their organization. Prepare in advance to hit on a few key accomplishments that truly demonstrate how effective you can be.  Capture your opportunities by listening closely to the interviewers and interject with a relevant accomplishment.  Use the CAR (challenge, action, response) to paint a picture of the situation, how you acted, and what the outcome was. Entertain your listeners as best you can with a brief but powerful story.  Remember to finish your accomplishment example with how your decision positively affected other people involved, whether it was a satisfied client, a boost in office morale, increase in stock price etc.  Also, keep in mind that demonstrating your accomplishments should not come across as bragging, but offering insightful information about how you handle adversity.

Be human, mention a weakness

Give time for self-reflection in advance of your interview and offer your interviewers and hiring manager a genuine response about a weakness you feel you have.  According to the Harvard Business Review “When leaders showcase their own personal growth, they legitimize the growth and learning of others; by admitting to their own imperfections, they make it okay for others to be fallible, too.”  Don’t stop there, explain what you are actively doing to turn your weakness into a strength.

Tips for Discussing your last position
  1. Explain perceived “job-hopping”.  Perhaps on paper it looks like you’ve bounced around a little too much in the past 5 years.  Or perhaps a company you worked for was acquired.  Be honest and forthcoming with your transitions, following up with a statement explaining where you want to land.
  2. Leaving your last position. You may be asked why you left your last job.  Give an honest answer, even if there was conflict, and keep the mood and the tempo of the interview upbeat.  Perhaps you can explain your decision in a way that you wanted to make a move to grow and develop, or were looking for a new or different kind of challenge.

 

Do your research

Whether you are changing industries or are looking for a new position within the same industry, do your research.  Not only about the company but industry trends.  Offer up some insights and your perceptions of the industry to your interviewers.  An interviewer may ask how you would handle a company or industry specific issue and you will need to be prepared.

 

Closing the Interview

You are essentially selling yourself in an interview, right?  Treat an interview the same as a sales opportunity and be prepared to close the deal if you think it is a good fit.  BlueSteps suggests you close with “I’m very excited about this opportunity. What’s our next step?”  Clearly let the interviewers know that you are interested (if you are) and remember to be enthusiastic and smile.

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