What does it take to develop people leaders at scale? As organisations navigate a hybrid work environment, managers at all levels are unlearning and relearning how to best manage new operating models and best empower their employees to live and work happily.
Over the past two years we’ve been doing a lot of unlearning and relearning ourselves at NewCampus. What we found is that when learning is live, social and collaborative, our colearners were able to bring back insights, skills and frameworks back to their teams, putting them into practice and continuously learning from each other to improve.
We’ve come to see that organisations aren’t only places of commerce, but also places of learning. We now see companies as learning organisations, where people can develop themselves and their leadership skills, and a place where people can become the best versions of themselves.
Let’s take a look at how we can foster leaders through new ways of learning.
The impetus for live, collaborative learning
After delivering over hundreds of offline and online workshops for professionals at NewCampus, we discovered two important things for learning to have a long-lasting impact at the workplace: live learning and opportunities for collaboration.
During our time participating in startup accelerator programmes, we’ve experienced first-hand what collaborative learning feels like with a room of different people hailing from different backgrounds and circumstances.
Despite our differences, what we had in common were our goals, and the way we learned how to tackle our challenges became constructive—everyone in the programme was a leader in his or her own right and everyone had a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share and build on. What we all really needed was the right scaffolding in the programme to synthesise new ideas and insights from existing ones. Sometimes, our shared insights even surprised us as we uncovered new ways of thinking.
Another source of inspiration for how we design our learning experiences comes from how fitness classes, such as those at F45, motivate you as you make progress within a group. Sweating it out at the gym for a day is one thing, but being able to stay committed to your fitness goals in the long run and have peers cheer you on is another.
Just like in achieving fitness goals, motivation is pivotal for us to see success from sustained learning, and seeing your hard work pay off is rewarding enough to create a positive feedback loop for your growth. This is especially true with developing and demonstrating soft skills for leadership. While a 90-minute course on Communication 101 likely won’t make you a better communicator overnight, a 5-week cohort-based programme—which gives you a holistic environment that supports your growth—very likely will.
The bigger picture: leaders of learning organisations
So why is it important to build a learning organisation? At a personal level, individuals in a learning organisation are more likely to stay with the company as they find opportunities at work to challenge themselves and grow.
According to LinkedIn’s 2021 report on workplace learning, today’s employees are very much career-minded and are turning to online learning to not only develop relevant skills but also satisfy their curiosity. Meanwhile, managers who have the room to learn and grow will also be 3.5x more likely to be happy and engaged and 3.3x more likely to say that they will probably still be with their company in the next two years.
Looking ahead, what NewCampus exists to do is to give our learners the tools and enthusiasm to take back to their own organisations. In time, they will be the ones leading the transformation of their companies into powerful learning organisations.
As an example, Grab, which is one of SE Asia’s fastest growing scaleups, has managed to become a learning organisation in their own way by creating a work environment where learning is not outside of one’s “job scope”. As a result, their employees have taken the lead in adopting a creative and experimental mindset when it comes to serving their customers and designing their products.
Humanising learning for leaders
So how do we develop leaders at scale? First, a deep passion for learning and growth has to be embedded into the organisation’s culture in order to create a supportive environment for growth. And secondly, in order to develop leaders, the learning experience must feel “humanised” and social in order to increase accountability and motivation.
As we continue partnering with organisations in the region, we're also learning about what makes the ideal live experience that optimises engagement and delight. Those of us working to evolve how we work know that for us to reinvent the future, we have to rethink the past and present.
In the future, leaders aren't solitary figures of authority—they're masters of collaboration, empathy, and creative thinking. That's the type of future workforce we're working towards fostering at NewCampus.
Want to learn more about how you can better lead your team? Check out the NewCampus Management Essentials Sprint, a 5-week online sprint aimed at helping you develop essential modern-day management skills alongside a group of diverse peers.