Let’s be honest – our own training and professional development can sometimes slip down the to-do list, especially as we get back to business as usual.
We’ve started to see our calendars fill up with in-person meetings, and we’re all focusing on the next priority to land in our inbox.
It is clear, however, that the pandemic forced us to learn new skills, as well as changing our mindsets. It meant leaning more directly into the importance of being flexible, making decisions quickly with only the information to hand, or prioritising wellbeing wherever possible. We will continue to see the impact of the learning and insight generated during this time – as many workplaces adapt their ways of working as a direct result. This could be more working from home, better use of virtual technology, or increased belief in our empowered teams.
Our current situation offers an opportunity to ask ourselves the question: if we challenged ourselves to develop new skills, knowledge and insight more often (preferably in less pressured situations than a pandemic) then what other benefits would we see to our business and organisational practices?
This learning and development doesn’t have to be from within our own industries and teams. Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen the public, private and third sectors come together to problem-solve and find solutions like never before. The potential to carry this collaboration with us into this period of recovery and renewal – echoed across industries – is significant. We have so much to learn from each other.
In the same time period, all leaders have faced significant challenges, and while the specifics of each may vary between the personal and professional, there are overarching themes that connect us. We have been in the same storm – but not in the same boat – so what are the stories each of us can tell that we can learn from? By collaborating with peers in other industries, we can share the knowledge and insight that has been gained. Investing in professional development, training sessions and formal learning for directors will allow them to make these cross-sector connections in an environment that facilitates learning, growth and networking. Attending professional development opportunities also extends a director’s knowledge in vital areas of business practice, such as decision making and governance, which has remained a constant indicator of corporate resilience.
Every director or board member is now facing the complex task of how to drive their organisation forward, investing in their teams and allowing them to grow while simultaneously pushing through recovery, and maintaining prudent control of business operations. Highly-skilled, competent governance is a vital part of the mix.
Good governance calls for directors to set the tone from the top, and this new chapter of recovery and renewal post-pandemic – which is not going to be a linear path by any means – sets up a real juggling act for directors. They face the task of influencing good decision-making to their teams, upholding corporate governance, continuing to focus on growth through a period of recovery, and looking at long-term strategies for the business, including a just transition in the face of the climate crisis.
It seems like an enormous task – and it is. But there is no need to do it alone. By investing in formal learning and development, directors build their own skills, and meet like-minded individuals from a variety of sectors, with whom they can share their personal knowledge and experience in business. It’s time to start investing in our directors – it’s just good business sense.
Louise Macdonald is national director of IoD Scotland