Senior Leader Learning and Development

June 22, 2020

A comprehensive meeting summary, along with all slides and presentations is available to EN Human Resources Roundtable Group members only. Don’t forget to fill out the form at the end to learn more.

Senior Leader Learning and Development

EN’s Spring Human Resources Roundtable Group Meeting brought global CHROs together virtually for two days to discuss Senior Leader Development and what the COVID pandemic will mean to short and long-term planning. The meeting was facilitated by Executive Director Hein Knaapen with participating CHROs from Anglo American, AstraZeneca, Baker Hughes, Dow, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Legal & General, PepsiCo., Royal Dutch Shell, Sauer-Danfoss, Schneider Electric, Sun Life Financial, Wolters Kluwer, and others.

Spark Session: Leader Development Dr. Hitendra Wadhwa, Professor of Practice, Columbia and Founder/CEO, Mentora Institute

Hitendra shared five imperatives leaders need to think about in times of crisis and beyond:

  1. Inspiration: CEO now means Chief Emotion Officer. Average leaders focus on performance. Good leaders focus on motivation.  Great leaders focus on the emotional climate and redirect energies in positive ways.
  2. Integration: Leaders must avoid the intelligence trap. Because the rules for today have not been written, explore the ideas and perspectives that other—especially non-traditional sources—have to offer.
  3. Intuition: Intuitive decision-making wins in a crisis. Trust it.
  4. Inclusion: Instead of differentiating people along the bell curve, realize that everyone is the whole bell curve. Inclusion is a commitment to bring out the best in every individual in our team and organization.
  5. Inner Core: Invest in your own strength and cultivate your curious self.

Spark Session: Vertical Development Dr. Bill Pasmore, Professor of Practice, Columbia University and SVP, Center for Creative Leadership

We are not prepared for what is happening today.  Bill says that developing our leaders to help our organizations succeed requires changing the way their skills are developed.  Traditionally, leaders have experienced horizontal development where skills and knowledge are transmitted from experts—the “What You Think”.  Success in the future leader requires that leadership development move to vertical development that grows a leader’s ability to think and act in a more complex, systemic and independent ways—”How You Think”.  Vertical leadership development is harder and requires maturity, perspective and complexity.  We must recognize that this growth in leadership takes place in a public environment and allow leaders to make mistakes.

Back2Better Mike Dulworth, CEO, Executive Networks

The pandemic has created a crisis for organizations that was unthinkable 6 months ago.  The challenges facing HR leaders are overwhelming and complex.  Returning to the workplace requires decisions from locating assets to ensuring workplace safety to assisting employees with long-term mental health issues caused by the pandemic.  Headed by Executive Networks, Back2Better seeks to jumpstart new thinking about the world of work, workers, organizations and the future of HR post-COVID (HR-PC). Back2Better leverages the collective networks of Executive Networks (Global 1000 companies), Thinkers50 (management/business thought-leaders) and Harvard’s Human Flourishing Program (a global research initiative).  Utilizing the Delphi technique, a systematic, interactive forecasting method which relies on a panel of experts, Dr. John Boudreau is analyzing and synthesizing the Steering Committee members’ input to drive the next phase of the research.

The Human Flourishing Index Dr. Tyler VanderWeele, Harvard University

The Human Flourishing Program at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science aims to gather and disseminate knowledge from various academic fields on topics fundamental to human flourishing and to develop and implement systematic approaches to the synthesis of knowledge across disciplines. Dr. VanderWeele shared the current research findings and discussed the business care for focusing on flourishing.   Traditionally, well-being factors such as happiness, virtue, religious community, meaning, and purpose have been viewed as principally falling within the purview of the humanities, often of philosophy or theology. The Human Flourishing Program is adding empirical validated data to give a more robust measurement ability. When organizations support flourishing with small things like learning how to focus on acts of kindness or resources to help employees with financial education, engagement and productivity increase.   As a part of the longer term Back2Better Initiative, Executive Networks will partner with the Human Flourishing Program to provide member companies with the tools to measure flourishing and benchmark against other companies.  This research will launch in September 2020.

Member-Led Discussion Takeaways

Because meetings are member-led and member-driven, much of the two days was dedicated to member conversations, questions, and best practice sharing.   A few takeaways are:

  • Organizations must commit to Inclusion to bring out the highest potential in teams and individuals.
  • Employees are looking to companies to lead in a time of crisis. Authentic leadership is essential.
  • Organizations are accountable for tangible reform to resolve the socioeconomic divide/systemic issues.
  • Listening to the stories of African American employees is critical, especially for white male Leadership.
  • Now it is even more important to deliver technology solutions like chatbots and AI that enhance EX.
  • An outcome of the pandemic will be weeding out activities and roles that are no longer necessary.
  • Growing our culture with virtual onboarding and a population that has not been in the office is critical.
  • Virtual work environments reduce hierarchy and allow more self-directed teams to make decisions. It has also allowed those who were “hidden” to emerge with great ideas and contributions.
  • In order to handle more complexity, leadership needs to shift from achiever/knowledge mindset to a more flexible, open, reflective mindset, with ability to manage uncertainty.
  • Psychological safety is important for learner mindset and to change culture.


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2020 Spring HRRG Meeting

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