Corporate leaders who are unwilling or unable to influence, innovate and be impactful — what I call i3 — are headed for calamity.

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At last week’s Perspectives conference in Las Vegas, Skillsoft’s annual user event attended by well more than 1,000 of Skillsoft’s 6000+ customers, it was i3 game on.

The messages were “anything but ordinary” as I referenced during my presentation delivered in a general session. Joined by five other thought leaders and industry gurus, we shared key must-do’s to step up to the top 5 most urgent global talent issues – leadership development, retention and engagement, reskilling HR, talent acquisition and workforce capability.

To earn and sustain an ongoing market leadership position in our complex, volatile, distributed, uncertain, and global workplaces and environments, here are a few i3 analytics-based wisdoms we shared last week and fervently encourage you to adopt …beginning last week:

  • Leverage a pull strategy to jumpstart innovation. Make innovation a mandate and enable it with the social and mobile tools and technology your employees need to generate their own learning, share knowledge and network continuously at the very moment of need.
  • Make innovation an all-in effort. High-performance innovation is not reserved for the R&D Team or the top layers of leadership. All employees must feel empowered and encouraged day-in and day-out to share new thoughts and take qualified risks to acquire and develop talent, engage each other and the customer, and offer ideas about creative product and learning solutions.
  • Fall in love with the process of creating, but not your creations. Our business goals and learning solutions are in a forever state of change, or at least they should be in order to earn and sustain performance excellence. Don’t be disappointed by yesterday’s result or development approach that doesn’t quite hit the mark or no longer works today. Instead welcome the challenge to reinvent it as new opportunity for a greater level of success.
  • Make personal influence your currency. As a leader, our power to innovate and execute is directly related to how well we individually influence others up, down, and sideways. HR leaders in particular can increase their influence by increasing their business acumen and holding themselves accountable for enabling the businesses they support to achieve their business goals.
  • Expand your organizational influence by adopting an outside-n approach. Your organizational brand grows and increases in value in direct alignment with the extent to which your products, processes, and people leadership reflect the voice of your customer. Initiate and measure a net promoter survey to gain some real customer input about the value your products and services offer and be ready and willing to make the changes they ask for.
  • Communicate clearly, simply, succinctly with healthy provocation. With diminished attention spans in today’s workforces, leaders who are listened to are those who surprise and provoke their audiences. Impactful leaders share short stories that evoke emotion, are authentic, and create credibility.
  • Define no more than 2 to 3 metrics to quantify the business impact created from learning. Today’s era of big data promises to make employee learning faster, better and cheaper provided organizations invest in developing the skill sets, critical thinking, and innovation needed to grapple with data analytics. Yet only 20% of business leaders feel their HR teams are equipped to draw lessons from the HR analytic data exhaust that is compounding with volume and velocity every day.

Today’s pace of business, talent and learning changes may or may not be unprecedented, but it is surely spectacular and our Brandon Hall Group research shows that we should expect that it will accelerate from here for organizations everywhere and of every size.

Adapting may seem difficult, but it is not impossible. In his landmark 1859 book, The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin showed that those species that adapt best to their changing environment have the best chance of surviving, while those that do not adapt simply do not make it. To quote Darwin: “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.”

Substitute your business, your talent function, your learning center of excellence for the species and therein lies powerful advice for today’s leaders. Adaptation and innovation require change. For the organization that makes change a mandate, there is better than average chance that it will stand far ahead of its peers in market and financial performance. In fact, the edge lies with those who see change more as an opportunity and challenge than a threat. And as I closed my message in Vegas last week, my last word on this critical mandate came from early 20th century poet Apollinair Guillaume: (Come to the Edge)

‘Come to the edge.’ ‘We can’t. We’re afraid.’

‘Come to the edge.’ ‘We can’t. We will fall!’

‘Come to the edge.’ And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew.”

Here’s to Skillsoft’s Kieran King, Melynda Hilliard, Pam Boiros and many, many others who put together and delivered another jaw-dropping conference last week full of can’t-miss learnings and expert advice for all interested in making their organizations best of breed. In case you haven’t noted it already, next year’s Skillsoft’s Perspectives conference is taking place in Orlando at the Rosen Shingle Creek on May 18-21, 2015. See you there!

Until next time….

Laci Loew, Vice President Talent Management Practice, Principal Analyst,

Brandon Hall Group

Laci Loew

A principal talent analyst and consultant with Brandon Hall Group, Laci is expert in all areas of human capital management particularly talent management, leadership, leadership development, and succession management. She has worked in the public and private sectors consulting global and matrix Fortune companies across all industries on integrated talent initiatives. Laci holds a bachelor of science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; earned her MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management; and is currently a PhD candidate in organizational psychology. Laci’s hometown is Chicago and she is based in Las Vegas.

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