Beware “Snackfiying” All Your Employee Learning – Especially … Leadership

As digital transformation sweeps through your organization, the temptation to create more things for employees to engage with on their devices might seem the obvious way to go.  The more customized, “on demand” and “micro” something is – the better.  Right?

I dissent.  The pendulum may have swung too far.

I am a fan of the tremendous value creation for organizations, and the positive impact the digital revolution has on many employee experiences and bottom line for organizations. And, here is serious room for improvement in HR and Learning for more creative and collaborative impact using the latest technologies. At Integral, we are looking to fundamentally disrupt the 360 and peer review space with a new digital application to completely transform the feedback process– to be launched shortly.

So, I am not “old-fashioned”, harkening you back to the HR dark ages, but I am suggesting, there are certain leadership skills that cannot be deeply learned and “embodied” in front of a device.

High level knowledge sharing, technical skills – have at it.  Short, sharp pieces of information about what are your organizations values or competencies or standards, by all means – blast away.  Basic training on software, form-filling or other repeatable tasks? Zip it directly into a scalable 2 minute and cute video on your “interactive” learning platform.

But think of this:  Some of the key competencies any great leader has – is the ability to connect, to have empathy, to, at times, be vulnerable or show emotion, and to point to a future that others will commit to, these cannot truly be learned by oneself. They must be practiced. At Integral, one of our key principles is leadership is a performance art.  Imagine going to the ballet where the prima ballerina has done all of her training online without ever working together with the corps or their partner.  They might mimic the moves but they will not have them in their bones. The same is true of leadership.

These critical skills of leadership are best developed in a slower, longer, and “digital-detox” format that allows people to become more mindful, drop their “work personas”, learn from each other’s differences and not just use people for “what can you do for me”.  It also requires the ability to practice and learn from one’s mistakes and the feedback of those you serve.

You may think that you may not be able to afford bringing leaders from various locations together as too costly.  Think about the current war for talent and the cost of losing just one of your high-potentials or the loss of productivity if you do lose them.

Give them an experience they can’t get in front of their device. Surely, we can measure the “human side of business”. Neuroscience and data science are on our side on this.

If you want to affect the “fundamental operating system” of an individual leadership or team’s performance, dare to create connection, generous time for self-reflection and deeper meaning than producing the next widget.

If you would like to know more about how to bring more mindfulness and resilience to your digital workforce, contact us at

I would be deeply grateful if you would share this article on your social media platforms and comment.

And now, I am going out for a walk on the beach with my dog.

Libby Robinson is the Managing Partner of Integral, a 15-year old award-winning global consultancy focused on the human side of business and the nexus between science, data and conscious leadership.

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