The Evolving Strategic Role of the Learning Leader

In a knowledge economy, CLOs and other learning leaders and talent development play an important strategic role in their organizations. They are engineering performance improvements and shaping the capabilities needed to achieve strategic objectives. Since the founding of Motorola University in 1981 and the naming of the first CLO at General Electric in the mid 1990s, the impact and reach of the profession has continued to grow (see timeline).

A 2005 survey by ASTD and University of Pennsylvania found that 70 percent of top learning executives were engaged in strategy development and planning, and more than two-thirds were evaluated based on their alignment with the business and contributions to business value. Among the conclusions:

  • Aligning learning to strategy and communicating value are central to the job of learning leaders.
  • Knowledge of education and business are vital to success.
  • Multiple career paths can lead to the position of CLO.
  • The key competencies required are leadership and the ability to articulate the value of learning in business terms.
  • The business topics CLOs are most interested in learning about are strategic planning and change management.
  • The learning-related topics of greatest interest to CLOs are human performance improvement, measurement and evaluation, and learning technologies.

For more detailed insights from the survey, see Snapshot of the CLO as Strategic Partner.