Research-based learning and development options to build better leaders

Steph Fergusson of DDI expounds on how the consulting firm helps transform leaders' working lives

Research-based learning and development options to build better leaders

Developing leadership skills in an organisation is a daunting task, but it’s an area where consulting firm DDI excels. Due to its recent achievements, DDI won the gold prize in the learning and development category of HRD’s Australia and New Zealand Service Provider Awards 2022.

The company’s managing consultant, Steph Fergusson, has described how DDI’s training and development programs help transform leaders’ lives and organisations for the better. What accounts for DDI’s success in this field is constant innovation over five decades and a new leadership development subscription that makes learning much more accessible, said Fergusson in this interview with HRD.  

“At DDI, we build everything based on science, so our leadership courses are deeply rooted in psychology and focused on delivering measurable change in your leaders,” she explained. “The models and frameworks and tools, they’re well developed and researched, but they’re also simple and memorable. And this really helps leaders use them right when they need them the most.”

In addition, DDI’s tailored content can be delivered through various modalities such as traditional classroom, in-person, online and on-demand, to address evolving needs and promote behavioural change effectively.

“Our subscription enables learning and development professionals to plan and implement proactive group-based interventions, while also providing learning support and resources for leaders. What’s really important is that the content we have is also aligned to the organisation’s culture and needs,” Fergusson said.

The positive results of DDI’s courses are evident in the company’s data. Course participants themselves have reflected on their learning “as a lifelong leadership tool, [which] is proof of the impact that DDI has had on the development of leaders and how we are, in effect, walking [side by side with] leaders”.

Fergusson emphasised that leadership ability is a differentiator in an environment where companies are vying for talent, so DDI sees leaders’ development as a way to help them compete better. As every leader faces a unique set of challenges, the response depends on the available resources and support.

“During these times of crisis, people look to leaders for guidance and support. They’re looking for them to make decisions that will keep the organisation afloat while adjusting to rapid change,” she said. “So, the leaders who are succeeding are those who have been able to rapidly learn new skills and change.”

Talent engagement and retention is an issue that all levels of leadership are concerned about, said Fergusson. That’s why for 2023 and beyond, DDI aims to assist organisations in managing a hybrid or virtual workplace, preventing burnout, bringing in new employees, and keeping current ones inspired and productive.

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