In-Focus: Excellence in Leadership Development: Energising Leaders Through Technology (2015)

by | Sep 2, 2015 | In-Focus Reports

Brought to you through the support of our Ambassador KPMG, Excellence in Leadership Development aims to provide independent evidence that will help organisations understand the role of technology in leadership development and how to improve the impact of learning innovation.

In this report, we look at the progress made since our first report Reinventing Leadership Development, to consider what is driving change in leadership development today, the benefits that are being delivered by adopting new approaches, the barriers to learning innovation and the actions L&D are taking to address the challenges they face.

We draw from three main sources of data in this report:

  • In-depth interviews with innovative leaders in L&D responsible for leadership development, including:
    • Crown Prosecution Service (page 19)
    • McDonald’s (27)
    • NHS (35)
    • Nokia (40)
    • Disaster Ready (44)
  • A detailed online survey of 125 L&D leaders who are responsible for delivering leadership development programmes
  • Direct insights from a sample of over 2,000 leaders and managers

Fast facts from this report

Leaders as self-directed learners

Data from 2,000 leaders and managers highlights that whilst 40% find their classroom experiences essential or very useful in helping them do their job, they are also strong self-directed learners:

  • 91% find collaboration with others essential/very useful
  • 80% are willing to share, but 23% need help getting started
  • 55% are motivated by networking technologies
  • 70% find Google or other search engines essential/very useful
  • 40% belong to networks and communities
  • Over 70% are using mobile devices for learning

The full report explores differences in learning approaches from directors, senior managers and line managers.

L&D have high aspirations of their leadership development programmes

Almost all L&D professionals are looking for their programmes to improve the bottom-line impact on business, their ability to get the right talent in place and the process of supporting talent, however, whilst many report some progress, few are consistently achieving their expectations. For example:

  • 98% want their leadership programmes to deliver improved business performance, yet only 18% are achieving that to a large degree
  • 95% want to improve career planning for potential leaders, but only 13% are consistently achieving it
  • 95% want to improve succession planning, but only 16% are largely achieving it

Technology is being used with varying success to support leadership development

25% of overall L&D budget is allocated to leadership development, with 14% allocated to learning technologies:

  • 70% publish online books and e-Journals
  • 70% Video conferencing/Web presence
  • 68% Webinars
  • 65% Diagnostic tools
  • 64% External best practice videos
  • 64% Internal/enterprise-wide information systems such as SharePoint
  • 63% use dedicated leadership resources
  • 63% use online leadership portals
  • 29% are creating mobile apps
  • 33% are using immersive learning environments

The top drivers for using technology to help them share good practice, adapt learning to context and reduce time away from the business (reported by 96%) but fewer than half are achieving this.

the top barrier to change is the lack of knowledge about how technology can be used in leadership development (reported by 68% of L&D professionals).

L&D do not always adapt their provision to how leaders actually learn

Our findings show that 31% of L&D include users in programme design. As a result, L&D activities are not always in line with how leaders are actively learning. For example:

  • 92% of participants focus on face-to-face classroom training, despite 3 in 5 leaders actually finding it useful
  • 40% of leaders already belong to social networks for learning, yet 30% of L&D leaders still have have no plans to implement social media
  • Only 39% of L&D leaders offer mobile content in leadership programmes, despite 70% of leaders saying that they learn what they need for their job on their commute

Contextualising learning for leaders and managers

Context is critical for busy leaders yet the majority of L&D leaders are not embracing new models of learning that can support contextual learning

  • 90% are aware of 70:20:10 but only 25% are active in using this framework to support contextual learning
  • 26% use communities of practice in leadership development

Understanding and demonstrating value

Despite high expectations for leadership development programmes, few are actually tracking progress:

  • 41% identify KPIs for leadership learning but only 20% measure business KPIs
  • 31% track application of learning from a learner perspective, 7% seek evidence from their managers
  • 19% use learning analytics

Lessons learned from higher achievers

In this report, we focus on higher and lower achievers to look at what lessons can be learned from each. The higher achievers (19% of the sample) are those consistently reporting successes against four or more of the key drivers. The lower achievers (18% of the sample) are not reporting that they are largely achieving any benefits at all. Both allocate similar amounts of budget to the use of learning technologies, but the implementation strategies of higher achievers are significantly different.

This report explores what sets the higher achievers apart from others in the following areas:

  • Designing learning
  • Creating engaging online experiences
  • Enabling experiential learning
  • Creating community
  • Demonstrating value


This In-Focus report is free to download thanks to the support of our Ambassador, KPMG.

By downloading this report, you agree for your email address to also be shared with our sponsor (Please contact us directly for a copy if you do not wish for your address to be shared).

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