Professional Partner Content

Top Leadership Development Challenges


The leadership landscape has been rapidly changing, including how leaders work and tools they can rely on. Accelerated by advances in technology and artificial intelligence (AI), workplace changes are prompting HR professionals to confront new leadership development challenges to prepare leaders for what’s ahead.

Based on responses from nearly 14,000 leaders from more than 1,500 organizations, DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast 2023 found five top leadership development challenges that HR teams face today:

1. Making Learning Relevant

Our research shows that learning must be relevant to get results. Otherwise, development doesn’t stick. Leaders need to be able to connect what they learn to real challenges they face on the job.

Relevance has become even more important as leaders are overwhelmed with work duties and have less time for learning. With so much competing for their time and attention, they are more likely to take advantage of professional development opportunities when they can see direct improvements in their job.

Companies can reinforce relevancy by communicating how valuable development is for career growth. Furthermore, senior leaders should show they value development and that it’s a critical part of the business strategy.

2. Creating Personalized Experiences


Learning should use data and insight to create personalized experiences for each leader. Leadership development is not one-size-fits-all. In our Global Leadership Forecast 2023, leaders made it clear that they want more insight into the areas they can perform better.

Leaders said that using assessment to inform development is one of the top three ways they want to learn. Further, when we conducted a follow-up survey with 1,149 leaders, 87 percent said they want more insight into their growth areas. That means learning must be personal to them and their development needs.

Many organizations are working to improve personalization of their programs. Fueling leadership development programs up front with assessment insights is becoming table stakes. According to our research, 64 percent of HR respondents say their leadership development programs begin with a diagnosis of leaders’ strengths and weaknesses.

Fueling development with insights increases the relevancy of what leaders learn. Personalization also increases leaders’ awareness of where they can get the most value from development. When learning is personalized for leaders, any effort they put in will be more valuable than going through generic development in areas that aren’t relevant to them.


3. Prioritizing Immersive Learning

When leaders rank what they want most in development, two criteria top the list: learning that is immersive and learning that enables them to interact with peers. The majority of leaders (61 percent) say they want to be immersed in learning with others. In your organization, this could include forming peer learning groups where leaders can share experiences and discuss learning.

What else does it mean to prioritize immersive learning? Immersing leaders in their development means learning by doing. Give leaders the opportunity to work through situations and challenges inspired by a real workday. Offer them the chance to participate in simulations, which can provide leaders with opportunities to practice and demonstrate skills in a realistic scenario, without the risk of making a mistake with real consequences.

Learn about more leadership development challenges and how to approach them on DDI’s blog.

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