L&D are business leaders, too

I often hear how L&D need to be better aligned to the business. That when we design and deliver solutions of varying sorts, we have to ensure business leaders are bought in. That we’re not part of HR. That L&D are a cost to the business. How we need to market what we do better and create a learning culture. How we need to be better business partners and understand the leaders of the business.

And I hear less about how we are leaders of the business already. Because here are things normally under our control that we lead on for the business:

  • We normally have a budget we manage. Company money entrusted to us to deliver solutions for the business. That’s pretty significant.
  • In some cases we may be employing people to work with us and for us. We’re providing someone with gainful work.
  • We design solutions that help people perform better at work. It’s not always as clear cut as that, but it is what we do. That’s pretty important. 
  • We enable managers to be better. Managers/leaders are a core part of organisational effectiveness. If we are helping them to be more effective that’s pretty impressive.
  • We use data and insights into human behaviour to improve working environments and working relationships.

I stopped thinking of myself as not being a business leader some while ago when I realised I had all that in my purview. And sure people have different levels of comfort and acceptance that they are as such. And then I think, but you’re paid a fairly good wage to do these things. That, again, by virtue of itself gives you the remit and responsibility to lead the business. Imposter syndrome be damned.

Lastly, this. This isn’t about humility. L&D leaders have a unique business position where we are required to understand the business in a way many departments don’t need to or have the time for. That level if insight we can provide is unique. Additionally, when collaborative efforts are needed it’s often because there’s no-one to be that catalyst for change. Again, a unique position that L&D can provide leadership on.

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

2 thoughts on “L&D are business leaders, too”

  1. Spot. On.

    If you’re aligned with the business, you are parallel with, not part of. How parallel you are is determined by how the business rates you.

    If you’re aligned with the business, your destination may be the same but your route circuitous and long winded. How long your route takes can directly impact on the business performance.

    If you’re aligned with the business your strategy is a learning strategy, not a business strategy. And that’s a little sad.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Sukh – I think it is spot on to echo Andrew’s words!

    I wonder if there is something here about how, who and where we market our work as well? It is something I have found over the last few years is more about more important in terms of stakeholder management – being really deliberate about shouting about what L&D is delivering on, the effect it is having and so on.

    In addition, when doing this it often kicks off a dialogue that I might not expect – for example ‘Hey you might think that is great but here is where L&D could really add value…’ if you know what I mean?

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