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Three Simple Steps to Becoming a Learning Leader at Work.

By Hawley Kane, Head of Organizational Talent and Leadership Development, Saba Software

Have you watched a TED talk lately? Chances are, you’ve clicked one of the popular videos on your LinkedIn or Twitter feed. The TED slogan is “ideas worth spreading.” By sharing an insightful talk about love letters to strangers, neuroscience or the “power pose,” we teach others.

Establishing yourself as a learning leader within your higher-ed organization can start with small steps such as sharing a TED talk, blog post or relevant podcast. Why should we do this? I’d like you to consider that creating a leader-driven learning culture within a higher education institution is a professional responsibility for learning leaders. We should always keep learning—and sharing that learning—whether through off-site trainings, conferences with big-name headliners or free webinars from thought leaders in the industry.

As higher-ed professionals, we should not miss out on development opportunities simply because we’re already in the workforce! We should also proactively seek out opportunities that will help us achieve our career goals. The 2018 Brandon Hall Group report, “The Learning and Performance Link: Making the Connection” found that high-performing organizations develop learning environments that are engaging, accessible, impactful, scalable and relevant. One way organizations can create this type of experience is by delivering personalized learning.

So when you’re ready to take additional steps (and I think you should!), here are three unique ways to position yourself as a learning leader in your higher-ed organization.
Becoming a learning leader: what it’s not
Lucky for all of us, becoming a learning leader isn’t about laboring for weeks over an unwieldy PowerPoint or scheduling multiple meetings with colleagues far and wide. In a large part, what I’m talking about is promoting a culture of learning and sharing. When you enable your people and teams to build new skills and perform at higher levels, you position yourself as a learning leader.


  1. Become friends with microlearning

We’ve all done it: we travel to a conference and take great notes, only to shove them into our notebooks when we get back, never to look at them again. The next time you listen to a keynote and think, “I need to tell my team all of this good stuff,” commit to writing a short blog post sharing your learning. Write it in the hotel room or on the plane back home while your thoughts (and enthusiasm) are still fresh.


When you get back, share your blog on your own learning management system (LMS), Slack channel or company intranet so that your colleagues can read it and learn anytime, anywhere. Why not submit the post to your internal newsletter or revamp it for an industry magazine? You could also ask for ten minutes at the end of a team meeting to share your findings, which will position you as a leader and allow you to practice presentation skills. The sky’s the limit when it comes to microlearning.

2. Go for a one-to-one or one-to-many approach

If I lost you on my first point, don’t worry. So, writing blog posts and speaking to large groups aren’t your favorite things. It’s okay! Remember to teach to your strengths. Consider hosting a lunch-and-learn and inviting colleagues you think would most benefit from your recap.

Another way to share learning in a more one-on-one manner is to sign up for your organization’s mentorship program. There’s no doubt there is a colleague down the hall (or in another location) who could benefit from your new knowledge. If you want to become known as a learning leader, experiment with different methods, always playing to your strengths.

3. Share information strategically

If you’re lucky, your LMS will allow you to create learning playlists where you can organize and then share content for a particular topic. One-on-one meetings are another excellent place to share information, whether you are a manager or an employee. Remember to make accessing the content you share easy and painless. (Watch how the learning staff at Cornell University made user-friendliness a top priority for their learners.)


Back to those TED talks—some people learn better by watching video. So consider the recipient when sharing information. If you know someone loves words and is a great writer, send them links to articles or tag them when you publish a new post. It doesn’t matter how you share the information, the important thing is that it gets to the people who need it most or who can use it to improve their performance and drive business success.


The world is yours—get going!
We all know the days of structured corporate learning is morphing into self-directed informal learning. Take advantage of this trend in leadership development to position yourself as a learning leader. With new technology and digital tools, it’s even easier than ever to proactively seek out opportunities to increase your knowledge. And once you have that knowledge, make a plan to share it using some of these tips. Before long, you will have established yourself as a learning leader in your organization.


Hawley is head of Organizational Talent and Leadership Development at Saba Software. As the OD leader at a talent management provider, she has the unique opportunity to marry Saba’s ongoing performance, continuous learning and career development strategies with the company’s own cloud solutions and services. Hawley is responsible for global initiatives ranging from onboarding to performance management training and leader development, as well as Saba’s people and team-driven development programs. Before her L&D leadership role, Hawley served as principal product manager at Halogen Software, prior to the company’s acquisition by Saba in 2017. Nearly a decade of experience in working with hundreds of HR and learning leaders to translate their business and user needs into product capabilities has provided her with distinctive insight into her current role.



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