Your personal learning cloud

Your Personal Learning Cloud

The Harvard Business Review edition of March-April 2019 includes an article about the evolution of leadership development. The authors describe the dynamics of it and how future leadership development will be organized. They also describe the gap between traditional executive education. This gap creates room for more tailored and democratic approaches. For instance, a Personal learning Cloud.

The need for leadership development

Nowadays, we live in a volatile, complex, ambiguous and uncertain environment. Companies do realize that this environment requires leadership skills and organizational capabilities that differs from what was needed in the past. You can compare it with the rise of the right-brain leaders as described by Daniel Pink in his book ‘A whole new mind’. He mentions that we’re no longer working in a knowledge environment. Instead, we live in a conceptual age that requires creators and emphasizers.

Next to that organizations realize that leadership is not only limited to the C-suite, but is required within all levels of the organization. As former President Obama said: ‘leadership is everyone’s businesses’. Leadership is about knowing the situations in which you can add value, and about curious being able to take action in those situations.

Thirdly, leadership development is part of a lifelong learning.

Root causes of the gaps in traditional executive education

Traditional leadership development approaches no longer meet the needs of the organizations and/or individuals. This is due to three reasons:

  1. Gap in motivations. Organizations, which pay for leadership development, don’t always benefit as much as individual learners do.
  2. Gap between the skills that executive development programs build and those that firms require. Providers don’t offer the soft skills development organizations need. Instead, they are focused on teaching cognitive skills.
  3. Gap in skills transfer. It’s often difficult to apply lessons learned in class to the real world.

Powerful trends in leadership development

The leadership development industry is changing. The traditional players, like business schools, corporate universities and big consultancy firms, are no longer leading per definition. As demand grows for executive education that is customizable, trackable, and measurably effective, ‘competitors’ are emerging. Therefore, the landscape of providers is growing and does exists out of:

  • business schools with open and customized programs;
  • strategic and human resources consultancies;
  • corporate universities;
  • and remote personalized learning platforms.

The personal learning cloud

Because of the growing number of providers within the leadership development industry we are changing towards a tailored and democratic leadership development approach. The article refers to a Personal Learning Cloud (PLC) that is helping to close the gaps in traditional executive education. Such a Personal Learning Cloud includes components like MOOCs (massive open online courses), interactive online content, corporate training, talent management platforms and so on. It is basically a mixture of different forms of education and training. The PLC has four important characteristics:

  1. Learning is personalized because learners can choose what specific practice or course is right for them.
  2. The way of learning is socialized and is for example supported by forums and Q&A sessions.
  3. Learning is contextualized as a PLC allows people to learn in a workplace setting and helping to transfer the things they’ve learned into practice.
  4. Learning outcomes can be transparently tracked and (in some cases) authenticated by providing certificates, diplomas or degrees.

The future of leadership development

So, after we introduced blended learning within traditional leadership development organizations, it is time for the next round of changes. Nowadays, we have to see it from an interorganizational perspective, rather than from an intra-organizational perspective. The need for leadership development won’t be fulfilled by one party, but by multiple providers who offer cherry-picking content, modules and instructors from across the industry.

Personal development budget

Personal Development Budget - Velites

Your personal development budget

When organizations consider it’s important that its employees have sufficient opportunities for development and growth in the course of their career, they can implement a personal development budget. In this case, the company reserves a certain budget for each employee that he or she can spend on things that will further develop him or her. This can be for example doing a study program, joining conferences, buying literature or attending a workshop.

Do you have a personal development budget?

A personal development budget can be part of your personal secondary labor conditions or can be required according to your collective labor agreement. But you can also ask for it yourself, without something mentioned in an agreement. A lot of companies mention that their employees are their biggest asset and therefore they want to invest in them. So, if you find a good training, workshop or conference, ask your supervisor to get it funded.

In The Netherlands the average personal development budget is 949 euro per year per employee. But not all organizations do have such a budget. And next to that, when there is a budget it isn’t always known. Dutch research showed that almost 25 percent of the employees don’t know if they do have a personal development budget. So, if you don’t know start asking for it.

If your employer doesn’t work with a personal development budget or you have your own company, there is no reason to not start working on a fund for personal development. In many countries, it is the people themselves, saving money for personal development. They put, for example, each month a specific amount in a special fund that they only use for things that will further develop them.

How to get the best out of your personal development budget?

The most important person in the decision making about spending your personal development budget is you. It is not your manager or supervisor who tells you how to spend the budget. It is you telling them where you want to spend the budget on and why.

But, how do you make such a decision? In this case it is important to do a needs assessment, where do you stand now and what do you want to achieve? Do you want to broaden your skills or want to become the expert in your area? Do you prefer a short workshop or a long-term program? What do you want to achieve with your personal development budget?

The answers will guide you towards the best way of spending the budget for you. This differs from person to person and that’s why it is called a personal development budget. When you have a personal development plan it is great. The plan can help you to answer the questions above and guides you through your personal development.

Budget is not everything

Having a budget helps you in a world of lifelong learning. However, only having a budget doesn’t make you developing yourself. In fact, in the Netherlands 40% of the personal development budget isn’t used. Often the costs are the most important reason to not do a course, but also time and coaching play a huge role.

Development needs to be a priority for both the employee and the employer. The organization can support this by providing specific training-days for employees. However, the most important person is you. You need to give the priority to your personal development. The HR-department or your supervisor can help you by showing different ways of development and helps you to decide what fits you. But at the end, it’s your development.