Skillsoft Blog

Understanding — and Celebrating — Leadership Wherever You Find It

June 21, 2021 | by Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek

Something very exciting is happening here at Skillsoft. On Friday, June 11, 2021, Skillsoft closed a merger with Churchill Capital II to become a publicly traded company and combined with Global Knowledge to create the world's leader in corporate digital learning. It was a momentous occasion for all team members as we ushered in a new era.

Of course, when businesses grow, leadership grows, too. Skillsoft has assembled a world class executive team led by incoming CEO Jeff Tarr. These are individuals who are not only experienced in their craft, but also in leading large scale business transformations. In just a short time, we’ve developed a tremendous amount of respect for each other and a healthy appreciation for the work that needs to get done. Most importantly, perhaps, we all believe in the mission of the company and have made a shared commitment to a collective purpose. In a recent interview with IPO Edge, Jeff explained:

"
I was looking for a company that, when it succeeds, will make the world a better place. But it's not only the social mission. It's also the opportunity to connect the hearts and minds of team members to a bigger purpose."

This is incredibly inspiring to me as a leader and someone who believes that we, at Skillsoft, have a societal obligation as well as a corporate one.

As we emerge from a global pandemic, respond to a widespread call for social justice, and seek to become future-fit in a digital-first world, our modern workforce is demanding a new leadership paradigm. Great leaders don't just ask others to follow they inspire others to lead.

When I think about the leaders who influenced my own career, such as IBM’s Caroline Taylor, I certainly remember their charisma, character, and drive to succeed. But those qualities are not the only reason I followed them as leaders and still consider them my mentors. It was their belief that we can, in the course of business, strive to help others, and also treat the
empowerment of their people as more important than our own positions of "power." What did I learn from them that I try to apply to my own leadership today? The best leaders:

  • · Lead by example and inspiration, and not by force. As an example, Caroline worked within IBM to bring cloud technology, AI, and MI to bear for Stop the Traffik, a non-profit that tackles the crime of human trafficking in the world. Her teams followed her and were far more productive because they were inspired by Caroline and wanted to be a part of the work she was doing.
  • · They treat their entire teams with dignity, care, and respect — from interns and administrators, to senior directors and VPs. Whatever your level, you feel valued and understood.
  • · They trust their teams to take care of what they’ve been assigned. They don’t micromanage. And sometimes, when I needed it, they would jump in to save the day if I made a misstep.
  • · They challenge us to learn new skills and grow professionally, something I personally continue to do to this day — and something that’s easier and more rewarding because I work at Skillsoft.
  • · They practice Stephen Covey’s, “seek to understand principle,” listening first before making decisions. They encourage us to grow. And our success is their success too.

I was fortunate to learn from those who were, perhaps, ahead of their time. The conversations we had with L&D leaders in our recent Skillsoft eBook, The Future of Leadership Development, bears this out. As Morra Aarons-Mele, founder of Women Online, says, "Leadership in the future will be the polar opposite of the old command and control model."

According to the leaders we spoke with, the future of leadership requires us to have courage to face the unknown to embrace new ways of being, working, and doing. And to be unafraid. Even, as one leader put it, to have "a sense of wild adventure." But, it also requires new power skills, like resilience, agility, collaboration, and a growth mindset during this era of unprecedented digital expansion and organizational change.

I find this exhilarating. Because power skills are not some elusive, magic formula; they are competencies that can be learned. And, according to MIT Sloan Management Review, companies that invest in the right learning experiences for their people tend to outperform their competitors — delivering an average of 19% more growth in revenue over time.

I think it’s most important that we acknowledge that leaders aren't found only in the C-Suite. Sometimes, leaders are the people who stay calm in a crisis. Those who encourage their peers to be their best selves. The team members who check in on their days off. Or, those who speak up when they witness injustice. Through their presence and their actions, whether in front or leading from behind, these leaders influence others for the good of all. And, when given the opportunity to grow further through learning, the possibilities for their future and ours are limitless.

If you're curious about how Skillsoft can help you or your teammates on the path to leadership transformation, start with The Seven Signs Your Leadership Plan Needs a Reboot. Then, explore our groundbreaking Skillsoft Leadership Development Program, powered by MIT Sloan Management Review, with a 14-day free trial.

Now, lead on. And remember, sometimes, all you need to get started is a little bit of courage and a little encouragement.