A learning strategy to develop leadership strengths

Nadia Golenkova of Tradelink defines company's award-winning leadership program

A learning strategy to develop leadership strengths

“Everybody has their own leadership journey and everybody is a leader in their own way,” says Tradelink’s learning and development manager Nadia Golenkova in this interview with HRD.

She describes an outstanding leadership program as meaningful, measurable, and integrated – the qualities that have brought Tradelink its Best Leadership Development Program Award at the Australian HR Awards 2022.

For Golenkova, a leadership program should be relevant to both the organisation and individuals, and should be tailored to the needs of all stakeholders. It should also be measurable by means of numerous data points from leaders’ and participants’ perspectives. Finally, the program has to be embedded in the whole organisation.

“In our case, we use our leadership program as a jumping off platform for talent development, for succession conversations, for other conversations throughout the organisational cycle. And it’s also connected to our Fletcher Building parent company as well, so everything kind of fits together,” she says.

Upskilling in a hybrid or remote environment has posed a challenge for Tradelink, a company with over 220 locations across Australia and with branches that have as few as three employees.

When the company started its hybrid and digital-first learning model in 2020, Golenkova and her team applied a self-driven approach where the facilitator served as a guide rather than as a teacher. This method is based on the idea that “I’m the best teacher for me and you’re the best teacher for you,” she explains.

Golenkova calls the program “a community and a sharing experience [through which] leaders can support each other fully as well as get some information from the sessions”. The presence of senior leaders who fulfill the role of champions during the training sessions has also been helpful because they “contextualise and embed the program and add to the richness of the conversations” in a hybrid setting.

She emphasises, though, that Tradelink’s leadership programs do not target any specific skill sets, but are based on individual strengths, which means enabling people to develop the innate talents that can be useful in building their leadership abilities. 

In the near future, Tradelink’s learning strategy is geared towards providing its leaders and all employees a “career journey experience” through the company’s operational capability platform. Tradelink is also exploring the use of gamification and advanced analytics while looking to introduce a coaching culture.

“That starts with strengths and with understanding your talents and capabilities, and then applying them not just to leadership, but to becoming a leader as a coach in a unique way,” says Golenkova.

Watch the full interview here.

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