For this article I have focused on leaders who are about to assume responsibility for the Learning/Talent Development function of medium to large companies. Although there are many additional areas that must be effectively addressed, the following are fundamental practices that I have found to be critical to success. When assuming the top role, it’s difficult to balance the strategic and tactical demands of the job. My advice: err on the side of strategy development. Having a well thought out plan is necessary for success. Good plans focus on “what,” “when,” and “cost/benefits.” It’s important to document what will be done, the priorities assigned, the schedule for the start and end of new projects/programs, the budget required to accomplish the plan, and the value proposition for your plan. Great plans, in addition to the above, also focus on “how we think and act.” Executive sponsor(s), clients, and staff members appreciate insight on how the learning leader expects people in their group to conduct themselves... and why. The most important undertaking for learning leaders is to establish and manage strong relationships with the senior executive team, and to engage them in developing a vision and planning process for learning/talent development. Learning leaders should also have a bias for analysis and planning. This will reduce execution time and will significantly increase the probability of success. During planning, align all that you will do with the corporate business strategy.

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