Shifting Landscape Creates New Learning Opportunities for Corporate Executives

2016 Trends in Executive DevelopmentLeaders from 466 of the world’s most notable organizations across the globe participated in 2016 Trends in Executive Development biennial survey. In order to track the growth and evolution of executive education and development trends, Executive Development Associates, Inc. has conducted this research every two to four years since 1983. The 2016 Trends Report, which is used by organizations to benchmark their own executive development practices, shows that the shifting markets and impact of technology are pushing executives to learn new skills and make changes in their approach.  In 2014, the trends showed that the ability to create a compelling vision and engage others around it was the most important capability needed for next generation leaders. That remains true in 2016.

People need leadership. We see it in the trends, and we see it in the work every day. People need leaders who can envision a positive future state for the organization and then engage and inspire the workforce to take it there.

While this element in the trends remained steady, the new results indicate a slight shift in how leaders approach challenges with a new emphasis on cognitive readiness and a continued emphasis on critical thinking. Since 2009, critical thinking, the ability to recognize assumptions, evaluate arguments, and draw conclusions, has topped the trends as a key development need for senior leaders. In 2016, we see the connected, but more advanced level of mental skills of cognitive readiness gain in importance. Cognitive readiness, defined further in the 2016 Trends Report, is the mental, emotional, and interpersonal preparedness for uncertainty and risk.

In addition, and possibly the biggest shift in the 2016 trends, is a much greater focus on the customer. This is a major point in the research. I believe executive development will be positively impacted by this new trend as leaders learn to drive organizations that are customer centric in their solutions and integrated in their approach.

The 2016 Trends in Executive Development: A Benchmark Report is the product of collaboration between Executive Development Associates (EDA), Pearson TalentLens, and Performance Assessment Network (PAN). The 60-page Trends report is available here through EDA. We also offer onsite strategy sessions facilitated by Senior Executive Development Associates Consultants.

For more information, contact Amy Sullivan at