ATD Blog

Demonstrating Your Leadership in Difficult Times

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

We’re living in a new world. Nearly everyone is working remotely and those whose jobs typically revolve around travel have been grounded. If classroom and face-to-face activities and events were a primary development vehicle, they’re no longer available—at least for some time.

Take a Leadership Role and Be a Beacon of Productivity

While no one can control how long this new normal will last, each person can control what they do with their time. Fear comes from lack of control; comfort comes when you exert control where you can. Use whatever tools you have at your disposal to provide each person on your team with the ability to exert control in a positive way for themselves (skills are currency) and the organization.

You can start by using a skill assessment tool to identify any gaps. Like GPS, this will let them know where they are and show them where they need to be, giving them a road map to get there via personalized, competency-based learning.

Suddenly, there may be time for learning. For instance, those who used to commute can exchange commute time for learning time. For those whose role has changed significantly due to travel limitations (like salespeople), now is the perfect time to focus on skill development. So, provide skill practices that people can use to learn while they work. Experiential learning, like skill practices, can often be performed independently then reviewed with others. Clearly, it’s something that can be done remotely.

Finally, don’t forget learning through connections like mentoring. However, with social distancing in play, keep in mind that task-based mentoring will need to blend live connection, networking, and development to create a powerful punch.


How Can You Get Started?

Talk to senior leaders about your proposal to make this unfortunate change in circumstance into an opportunity to create competitive advantage—for the organization, and for individuals. Then create or purchase skill practices so people can learn while working remotely.

Next, draft a few short email messages for senior operational leaders to send that promote skill development as a way to leverage unused or commute time. Remind employees that learning is the best way to position themselves to come out of the crisis with momentum.


Creativity often suffers when “thinking time” is unavailable because everyone is always on-the-go. Consider creating virtual brainstorming sessions that serve as learning opportunities and continuous improvement idea generation. Use your skills assessment tool to identify four to six high performers in some skill (such as scenario planning or contingency planning), get them on a video call, and use the nominal group technique to identify ways of developing that skill in others. Or perhaps these sessions are focused on workarounds for existing ways of doing things currently performed face-to-face, which may create future efficiencies.

Every Dark Tunnel Has a Light of Hope

Imagine what will happen when improved skills and new efficiencies emerge that positively differentiate your organization. Imagine how much better people will feel when they can exert some control over their situation. You can be the catalyst for your organization coming out of this difficult time better than when it started.

Learn more during the free ATD webcast, How to Leverage Competency-Based Learning to Upskill Employees for Skills of the Future, on April 2, 2020, at 2 p.m. ET. Even if you can’t make it live, you’ll get a link to the recording.

About the Author

Cheryl Lasse is SkillDirector’s managing partner. Her goal is helping people and companies achieve their potential. Cheryl has extensive experience with competency model development and implementation, and enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion with others. Check out the LinkedIn group Competency Models For Professional Development.

She believes people are intrinsically motivated to excel, if they are given access to a competency model for their role, the opportunity to assess themselves against that model, and personalized learning to help them close gaps and meet aspirational goals. This philosophy has been embodied in the Self-Directed Learning Engine, the engine behind the ATD Skill Tracker.

Cheryl has a strong background in consulting, marketing, and sales, mostly in technology companies, where training has played a chief role throughout her career. She holds bachelor’s degrees from Syracuse University in computer science and HR, and an MBA from the University of South Florida.

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.