Tackling Local and Global L&D Trends – A Dialogue with Sandeep Khanna & VJ Posadas
Understanding local and global trends within the L&D space can set great leaders apart from just good ones.
Understanding local and global trends within the L&D space can set great leaders apart from just good ones. A leader’s ability to communicate current insights and relevant predictions in the industry can inspire innovation and creativity among team members. This month, we introduce you to Sandeep Khanna and VJ Posadas, two of WDHB’s leaders in Singapore, as we explore successful leadership qualities and rising industry trends in Asia-Pacific.
Sandeep Khanna, Managing Director, APAC, brings over three decades of professional experience across advertising, marketing and learning to our team from leading organizations like Grab and Facebook. We asked him about some of the qualities that successful L&D leaders exhibit and his predictions for the future of leadership in the Asia-Pacific region.
What are the key characteristics of an L&D leader?
I would love to use an analogy here. I see an L&D leader as a bit of an entrepreneur in the company. Maybe this view is fueled by my time at Facebook and Grab and now at WDHB, but I see many parallels between an entrepreneur and an L&D leader.
1. Focus on Impact: Just like an entrepreneur, the L&D leader has to have great vision and passion aligned to the business. Unless the L&D leader can create interventions that impact business and create value, there is little chance that L&D will be taken seriously. So, a relentless focus on impact is key.
2. Be Bold: The successful L&D leader is one who is bold and can take calculated risks. We all know that traditional means of learning do not work in the fast-digitizing world we live in today. So, a natural curiosity to try something new and experiment is very important. A mindset of failing fast is crucial so that one learns from failures and rebounds and drives newer actions.
3. Keep the Momentum Going: Successful entrepreneurs are gritty and never give up. The same is true of successful L&D leaders. Most companies have a tendency to cut back on learning and tend to view development as a luxury when times are tough. It is at these occasions that smart L&D leaders find a way to keep the momentum going and influence the business to take a long-term focus on people.
4. Take Ownership: Like successful entrepreneurs, L&D leaders take ownership of their actions. They are proactive, set BHAG goals and get things done. This is what separates the great from the good.
5. Make Great Choices: Finally, they have the uncanny ability to make great choices. They have great judgment and can pick the right programs that will deliver the best results. They know resources are always scarce and they know how to optimize them.
What shifts do you foresee happening in APAC that will impact the future of leadership?
That’s a big question. Leadership is never fixed but, like our mindsets, needs to keep growing. In APAC, we see a few things playing out. Here they are in no particular order:
1. Technology becoming omnipresent—Asia has always been ahead of the curve in terms of technology adoption. Also, the wave of tech-based startups has created a very powerful ecosystem and an environment that is conducive to technology. This has transformed many industries dramatically; leadership now requires being comfortable with the idea of digital disruption.
2. Accepting the Pandemic as an endemic—The pandemic has revealed the criticality of moving fast while being flexible. This means a rise of servant leadership in action by empowering others and enabling more people to assume control, make decisions and drive growth. The default cultural norms around hierarchy are being upended to create more open and collaborative cultures. Leaders need to walk the talk. Another implication of the pandemic is that there is a need for leaders to build stronger networks and ecosystems to become more client-centric. With the hybrid and virtual workplace becoming more commonplace, leaders need to be comfortable delegating and working in teams virtually.
3. Developing Leadership Soft Skills—Resilience and inclusion have become critical dimensions of any leader now more than ever before. This means leaders need to foster emotional intelligence to get the most out of their teams. To learn more about inclusive and resilient leadership, visit https://wdhb.com/inclusive-leader/ and https://wdhb.com/resilient-leader/.
4. Making ESG a priority— Environmental, Social and Governance factors are becoming increasingly important. Climate change is a near-term reality and not a far-fetched dystopian scenario. Because of this, companies need to strengthen their environmental, social and governance propositions. The importance of purpose and values means that leaders are now held to much higher standards than before.
VJ Posadas, Client Solutions Partner APAC, has worked extensively with clients across the APAC region for the last decade. We spoke with him about successful leadership qualities and gathered advice for L&D leaders specifically in the Asia-Pacific region.
What are some key characteristics of a successful L&D leader in the APAC region?
It is important for a L&D leader to understand that the skills, behaviors and mindsets that brought organizational success today will not ensure success in the future. As the world continues to change, L&D leaders must have a growth mindset and the ability to lead change in order to be successful.
The size of the region, the number of languages and the diversity of culture provide many opportunities for companies to expand and grow in Asia-Pacific. An L&D leader should not only know about the best practices in leadership and development, but also about what is new and emerging. They should be aware of where the business is going, how it is changing and what it wants to achieve. This will enable them to prepare the organization for its future talent requirements.
Considering how the pandemic caught everyone off guard, it also reminds us that we can never be fully prepared for what the future may bring. Whether its technological advancements or change in business strategy, natural calamities or political uncertainty, a L&D leader should be able to support the organization with the change that is happening internally and externally.
WDHB programs allow leaders to explore business challenges from other industries, and then facilitate discussions to apply the learning to their own organization. They learn from experts including Olympians, astronauts, best-selling authors, and Grammy-winning musicians. This enables leaders to learn from others outside of fixed paradigms to seek out new challenges and to see failure as part of the learning process.
What advice would you provide L&D leaders in APAC seeking to transform their organizations?
Many clients that I am talking to today would talk about the digital transformation happening in their organizations. L&D leaders should ensure that their organizations’ people stay up-to-date on all of the technological innovation and economic disruptors happening. More importantly, L&D leaders should not forget about the human-centric element of digital transformation.
Yes, it is important to know how to use the newest app being launched or the latest software that is rolled out in the company, but it is also important to upskill employees to the changing competency requirements of the job they are in. Amidst the apps, software implementations and gadgets used, leaders should not forget about the personal touch. People need to feel valued and recognized when a good job is done or the power of empathy and support when they make mistakes or require help. With a shift to virtual environments and remote work, learning and development should not only focus on leadership or technical skills, but also emotional health and well-being.
The lessons provided by Sandeep and VJ inspire leaders to be equipped to tackle new projects and handle the ever-evolving workplace with confidence, adaptability and a human-centric focus. While uncertainty and failure may appear daunting, Sandeep and VJ expose the value in opening your team up to new possibilities and working through adversity.
Are you interested in preparing for what’s ahead and exploring ways to enhance your leadership style? Connect with our team!
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