Different Leader Roles

New Research on How CTDO Roles Are Changing

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

In October 2016, ATD and the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) administered a survey to talent development professionals from organizations in all size groupings and industries inquiring about their chief talent development officer (CTDO) roles. In this report, CTDO refers to those who lead the talent development (or learning) departments, although their official title may be chief learning officer, vice president of learning, or vice president of training. Regardless of the title, this study found that the talent development leader’s role is expanding.

Of the 543 participants surveyed for the report Chief Talent Development Officers: Driving Strategy and Performance, 79 percent worked in organizations with designated talent development leaders; most frequently, just one person oversaw the talent development function. Participants most often represented companies with more than 1,000 employees. The largest group of survey participants said their CTDOs directly report to the chief human resources officer. Many other CTDOs reported to the CEO.

The study found that talent development leadership is a dynamic role in most organizations. In the last two years, the majority of talent development leaders saw an increase in the scope of their responsibilities. More than half of respondents reported that their CTDO’s responsibilities had grown in the areas of development of organizational business leaders and the development of business strategy.

CTDO responsibilities are not only expanding in the learning and business realms, but also growing in the general talent management arena. Seventy percent of participants said CTDO roles were reaching beyond the traditional learning and development responsibilities. Topping the list was leadership development, followed by performance management and succession planning. In addition, about half of respondents said their CTDOs were responsible for employee engagement and change management.


While an increase in responsibilities means CTDOs have a bigger impact on organizational performance, there are some drawbacks. Half of participants reported that reliance on one individual becomes too great, and 40 percent reported the CTDO’s reach is too broad in their organization.

In the study, ATD and i4cp recommend that organizations should acknowledge that talent development leaders with many responsibilities require team support. Specifically, talent development leaders need strong team players with diverse skill sets. Organizations need to identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for the different areas of talent development responsibility and hire accordingly. The talent development team members should fill in knowledge gaps, handle specialized areas such as e-learning and content development, and support the overall talent development strategy.

The full report, including detailed findings, graphs, in-depth analyses, and CTDO profiles and interviews, will be available at in early May for a member price of $199; the whitepaper will be available to members for free. The report can also be purchased at the ATD 2017 International Conference & Exposition Store for a special price of $75 (this deal is only available in-person at the conference, May 21-24 in Atlanta).

Visit the ATD Research page to learn more.

About the Author

Clara Von Ins is the Human Capital Specialist at the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Prior to working for ATD, Clara worked for the American Red Cross as the disaster program coordinator in Santa Barbara, California.

Clara received an bachelor’s degree from the Ohio State University in psychology and education. She is currently attending the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill remotely to obtain a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis on nonprofit management and community and economic development. 

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