Simple question - if you're working in Learning and Development today, what are the three key skills that you need? Once upon a time maybe there was a simple answer to this question - today, I'm not sure there is.

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Hi Donald,

Great question!

I would say:
  1. The ability to talk sensibly to the business about their real performance improvement needs
  2. A deep understanding of how learning works - including knowledge of the main theories such as Constructivism, Behaviourism, Cognitivism and Connectivism, and a healthy skepticism for ideas that have no real basis like learning styles, NLP etc.
  3. Knowing the right questions to ask at the beginning of any project - including the technical ones - and understanding how to interpret the answers. I've just finished a blog post on this very subject!


Hi Don,

I would say:

1. The ability to challenge.
2. The willingness to innovate.
3. A desire to develop yourself. L&D practice is moving along at such great speed and it is important that we ourselves don't 'stand still'.

For me it's....

Know yourself and your people
Understand your business
Be a successful leader of change

Know and understand the business you work in, how it operates and what skills/knowledge will keep it competitive.
Coaching skills so that you can help people to think for themselves and gain insights when they think that you're just having a chat.
My third would probably be energy and presence.
I'm reluctantly coming round to a 4th (and since I'm replying to YOUR post!), this would be "embrace the possibilities of technology in learning.... (I'm still working on this one.)
Keeping the list to just three is difficult, but here goes.

1. Talk the language of business - the current chasm is huge and generally speaking L&D people just don't do business!

2. Solve real organisational problems - put away the tools, the LMS the virtual this and that and find out what needs fixing within your organisation. Then use your skills to make the organisation better

3. Fail fast - all too often L&D people spend so much time on working out what to do that when they eventually do something the moment has passed. Research shows that's failure creates far deeper and longer lasting learning than success. This doesn't mean you plan to fail, what it means is try something and if it doesn't work have plan b,c and d ready to go. Nothing is ever 100% right.

I'm sure others will have many other view!

Hi Don
My three would be:
Communication Skills: Really listen without judgement. Know it's OK to be silent at times. Know how to present yourself to everyone, not just your close colleagues. That means your appearance, your physicality (how you hold yourself) and just as importantly how you sound: face to face and in the virtual world.
Emotional Intelligence, Know that we don't see things as they are, but as we are. That we're all different. All of us managing thoughts, events and our immediate surroundings in both our work and personal lives, synchronously - and whether you believe it or not, most of us are just trying to be the best we can be. So don't jump to conclusions, wait a beat before responding and be kind in your exchanges as well as professional
Be Light on Your Feet: A good, effective training professional needs to flex the provision of training with the learners' learning preferences and the stakeholders' perception of what effective training looks like.
Hi Donald.

I would say (in no particular order):

1. The ability to adapt and change to the business needs -ie have a diverse range of L&D solutions whether they be e-based or classroom delivery.
2. Strong Consultancy and comms skills
3. Challenging where appropraite as well as offering solutions not problems.
I don't think there is a simple answer Donald, and I'm tempted to say that we need perserverance, perserverance and a thick skin but it was ever thus.

More seriously we all need to understand the business/industry/organisational requirements where we are working, and ally these to excellent networking and communication skills. We also have to be flexible, more timely, emotionally intelligent and technically competent. Given the speed of change and the impending shake up due to spending cuts in the UK it will be interesting to see what others come up with and to see how many people end up going the self-employed route
Very interesting question and responses so far.

I would say:-

Empathy - listening and understanding the client/end user and their problems

Communication - presenting and translating ideas and concepts, mediating between parties of project stakeholders

Vision - having an over-arching idea of the best direction for an effective solution and being an agent for the necessary change to take place

Good question!

1. Communication - for me this is what L&D is all about
2. Adaptability/flexibility - crucial when you're dealing with so many different people, different needs, ever changing technology...
3. Passion - I'm not sure it's technically a 'skill' but I think a personal love of learning is needed in order to design/deliver effective learning solutions
Hi all,

Am I the only person that thinks a modern L&D person needs to understand the theory and practice of learning, and how modern technologies can help that?



In my response I had assumed that the knowlege of learning theory, adult learning and the application of technology was a given; rather like assuming that a doctor understands the workings of the human body.




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