In my first blog (What-Makes-a-Great-CLO-1
), I wrote that to be a great CLO you have to bring your own agenda to the job. This time I take a broad look at what it takes to deliver on that agenda.
The profile of a great CLO is that of a player-coach of a virtual team in constant flux.
Player-Coach: Twenty-first century CLOs need to have significant functional/technical depth, be informed and involved at a tactical level, and personally produce some key deliverables. They must be in the game. At the same time, they have to be able to set direction and expectations and to manage the performance of their teams.
Virtual Team: By virtual team I don’t mean a traditional team working via technology. I mean a team that defies any normal definition. It might contain direct reports as well as those who don’t even know they are on the team. Participation may be ongoing or episodic, and include people who have no commitment (or even concept) of the larger goal. In the learning function, these types of teams represent the majority of the resources critical to our success.
Constant Flux: Most models of leadership assume some stability in the team. (Forming, storming, etc.) They also presume that the leader, if so motivated, can spend a reasonable amount of time with the team. In learning, decentralized structures, growth, rotational assignments, use of SMEs, project committees, reorganizations and job changes, mean that the composition of the team is always changing.
To succeed as a player-coach of a virtual team in constant flux:
1) You have to know the game. You need
• A firm grasp of the organization’s operating model
• An understanding of the key leverage points of that model
• A deep understanding of the specific requirements that the model places on the learning function.
2) You have to be a great player. That means
• Very strong functional/technical skills
• A current and detailed grasp of the entire function of learning
• Outstanding tactical agility
3) You have to be great at coaching the game. You need
• An excellent and highly flexible game plan
• The ability to “coach on the fly”
• The ability to maintain the capabilities of the team (through addition, replacement, leverage, influence)
From what I’ve seen, this notion of the CLO as player-coach of a virtual team in constant flux applies to organizations of all sizes and maturity levels. And I don’t see the requirements changing anytime soon.
If I aspired to the role of CLO, or hoped to continue to grow as one, I might ask myself:
-What’s my area of deep technical expertise, and how am I maintaining it?
-Have I got the systems and processes in place that I need to influence a far-flung and diversely motivated team?
-Do I have a plan to maintain and grow the critical capabilities of the learning function in the face of constant turnover?
Good answers to those questions could help make a great CLO.
John Coné is principal of The Eleventh Hour Group. firstname.lastname@example.org