By Corporate English Solutions

28 November 2022 - 14:16

Skills L&D leaders need in 2023

What can L&D teams expect in 2023? Although no one can truly predict, we can say some things with certainty. L&D responsibilities will continue to grow, playing a more critical role in maximising business outcomes. Which means L&D leaders need capabilities crucial for driving business impact. To prepare for the year ahead, we share the top 5 skills to prioritise.


Reading time: 7 minutes

L&D is undergoing a huge transformation. It is quickly becoming more strategic and cross-functional, working more closely with the business to drive growth. 

“Many senior leaders are looking to L&D for data and guidance on skills, upskilling, reskilling and mobility”, says Dani Johnson, principal analyst at RedThread Research. “This reliance on L&D isn’t tactical or transactional – it’s highly strategic”.

Since L&D professionals are now leading more high-level business initiatives, it is crucial to go beyond the traditional L&D skill set and invest in their own learning.  However, it can be confusing to know where to begin and which skills to prioritise to have the most impact. 

Read on to discover the 5 critical skills L&D leaders need for 2023, along with key business outcomes and capabilities for self-assessment. Spend a short time now and identify how you can prepare for the opportunities (and challenges) ahead – in 2023 and beyond.

Skill #1: Strategy, planning and analysis

How exactly can L&D leaders increase the business impact of learning? They need a solid understanding of their organisation’s strategic priorities. And this means developing strong business skills. Particularly in strategy, planning and analysis. This way, L&D leaders will implement effective strategies that link learning outcomes to business objectives. And equally important, analysing data and communicating ROI to business stakeholders.  

Key business outcomes

  • L&D leaders will effectively contribute to organisational strategy and tie L&D strategy to key business priorities. 
  • Stakeholders will value the increased emphasis on business outcomes, increasing trust and confidence in L&D initiatives.
  • The organisation will benefit from holistic growth strategies supported by employees’ growing skills and capabilities.

Capabilities to assess

  • Can you contribute to organisational strategy through effective analysis, planning and influencing? 
  • Do you develop and implement L&D strategies that align with organisational priorities?
  • Are you able to implement L&D reporting that measures the business impact of learning?

Skill #2: Stakeholder engagement and influencing skills

More than ever, the need to collaborate with cross-functional, hybrid and remote teams is essential to achieving business goals. To do this successfully, L&D leaders must effectively engage diverse stakeholders and influence key decision makers and the organisation’s learning culture. This will require taking a strategic approach to stakeholder management to maximise both learning and business opportunities. 

Key business outcomes

  • L&D leaders will drive a targeted, strategic approach to influencing business stakeholders through confident, convincing, credible communication, enabling learning opportunities and business growth.
  • Stakeholders will be more engaged through increased trust, confidence and connection, and be inspired to take action to reach mutually beneficial goals.
  • The organisation will benefit from L&D’s growing reputation to be a credible, understanding and influential business partner. One that maximises growth opportunities.

Capabilities to assess

  • Can you implement successful strategic stakeholder engagement and influencing strategies based on in-depth understanding of stakeholder preferences, motivations, pain points and goals? Are they aligned with organisational values and business objectives?
  • Do you project confidence and capability during influencing conversations through effective non-verbal communication, listening and powerful questioning?
  • Can you adapt content, structure and approach in influencing conversations to build trust and reach goals, even with resistant, disengaged and hostile stakeholders?
  • Do you create a communication roadmap with targeted approaches for different stakeholders?

Skill #3: Intercultural communication skills

Not only is L&D working more cross-functionally, but it is also working across borders. Although this brings new opportunities to collaborate with different cultures, it can also result in miscommunication and misunderstanding. That’s why intercultural communication skills is one of the top skills L&D leaders need to prioritise.

Key business outcomes

  • L&D leaders will build trust, connection and credibility with diverse stakeholders through deeper understanding of cultural influences on behaviour and preferences at work.
  • Diverse stakeholders will value working with an L&D function that is highly skilled in communicating cross-culturally, improving opportunities for increased collaboration and agreements. 
  • The organisation will develop a reputation for being culturally aware and valuing diversity, strengthening both internal and external relationships.

Capabilities to assess

  • Can you communicate confidently in unfamiliar cultural situations through effective preparation and understanding of self and others?
  • Do you connect and collaborate positively in different cultural contexts by adapting work preferences and communication styles?
  • Is it difficult to respond with ease in uncomfortable intercultural situations through mindful observation, EQ and cultivating an intercultural mindset?

Skill #4: EQ

Another critical component to successfully managing relationships across functions and cultures is a strong EQ (emotional quotient or emotional intelligence). Having the ability to understand your own and others’ emotions is particularly useful for L&D leaders. Especially as they often need to work closely with others to find solutions to complex problems. In fact, 83% of organisations say that an emotionally intelligent workforce will be necessary to drive success.

Key business outcomes

  • L&D leaders will be more adept at understanding and managing emotions (their own and others), increasing productivity and performance.
  • Stakeholders will experience a more positive environment, making collaborations more effective and increasing opportunities to reach mutually beneficial agreements.
  • The organisation will benefit from enhanced rapport and relationship building needed to accomplish business goals quickly.

Capabilities to assess

  • Do you often adopt an aware, optimistic and resilient mindset in challenging and stressful situations to enhance mutually beneficial outcomes?
  • Can you use an emotionally intelligent thinking process to work productively in sensitive, complex and challenging situations?
  • Are you able to maintain positive and supportive working relationships with a diverse range of stakeholders?

Skill #5: Advanced business writing 

To be a well-rounded L&D leader, in addition to spoken communication, you also need to strengthen your business writing skills. The rise in hybrid and remote working has increased communication by email. Even sensitive or challenging subjects, once discussed in the office, are now summarised in emails. And with the increase in L&D’s role in strategic planning, report writing skills are essential. 

Key business outcomes

  • L&D leaders will present complex information and data clearly and concisely, demonstrating credibility and increasing the likelihood that written communication gets read.
  • Stakeholders will easily understand written documents and be inspired to take appropriate and timely action.
  • The organisation will project a credible, engaging and professional image through writing that connects with stakeholders and builds stronger relationships.

Capabilities to assess

  • Do you fine-tune content and tone of written communication to strategically engage diverse stakeholders in a range of work contexts and situations?
  • Can you communicate complex information clearly and concisely in writing so that it is accessible to the target audience?
  • How well do you adapt the content, structure and tone of constructive feedback to increase acceptance and action?

Bonus tip

Don’t forget about time management. To prioritise your professional development and manage increasing workloads, L&D leaders need strong skills in goal setting, prioritisation and working smarter. 

With over 80 years’ experience of working in over 100 countries in 6 continents, we have unrivalled experience of professional development for organisations. Find out how our 4-step process, training and coaching can grow your and your team’s skills and prepare you for the opportunities of 2023 and beyond

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