The current state of the international economic environment requires that the leadership of organizations large and small pay close attention to the changing trends that are rapidly occurring in order remain competitive (Kinghorn, Black, and Oliver, 2011). In particular, the challenge for organizations to keep up with the revolutions in technology and retain employees are staggering.
One of the ways that organizations can continue to produce strong profit margins is through the engagement of executive leadership in creating a learning organization. It is important to note that decisions and changes within an organization start at the very top and flow to the bottom. Therefore, executive leadership has the responsibility for creating a learning organization through providing opportunities and setting a strong example. The encouragement of ongoing learning of employees at all levels can serve as a motivating force within organizations to keep their staff actively involved in achieving profitable outcomes.
According to Kofman and Senge (1993 as cited in Bui and Baruch, 2010), before leaders of organizations can create effective learning environments, they must demonstrate full commitment to the implementation of such an initiative because it will inevitably change the internal culture. Bloisi (et al., 2007, p. 75 as cited in Bui and Baruch, 2010) defined organizational culture as shared assumptions, expectations, values and behaviors that employees conform to and anticipate. For example, certain organizations may be predisposed to not having their employees involved in ongoing training to keep their skills up. Bui and Baruch (2010) stressed the importance of employees understanding that they have support of executive leadership during the creation of a learning organization.
The organizational staff’s ability to directly apply their knowledge to improving their various roles is tied to them understanding that executive leadership fully backs their ongoing professional development (Bui and Baruch). Kinghorn, Black and Oliver (2011) emphasized the importance of executive organizational leaders recognizing the need to involve the entire organization in the planning and execution of a learning culture. The accountability and personal responsibility that occurs as a result of everyone taking ownership of their own professional development supported by leadership helps in maintaining staff motivation to give their best work.
Bawany (2015) stated that in order for learning cultures to thrive in organizations, executive leadership has a direct responsibility for creating environments where employees come first in terms of professional development. Bawany (2015) mentioned the fact that when staff members hear organizational messages that their gifts and talents are valued and they do not see the interest or engagement from leadership in creating a learning culture that it should not be a surprise when employees leave the organization for other opportunities. One of the ways that Bawany (2015) stated that organizational leaders can develop strong learning communities is by making sure that the employees understand that their needs come before any of the requirements of any of the customers that they serve. According to Bawany (2015), organizations that are able to put their staff members first tend to experience employees who are happy and inspired to produce robust outcomes. Furthermore, organizational leaders who fully commit to putting their employees learning needs first often experience satisfied customers who are likely to return to conduct future business (Bawany, 2015).
Bawany (2015) noted that in the creation of strong learning cultures within organizations, CEO’s must be the driving force behind any internal learning initiatives. For instance, CEO’s should consider regularly meeting with the training divisions of their human resources departments to ensure that they are kept up to date on new learning opportunities for employees (Bawany, 2015). CEO’s can demonstrate their commitment to developing employees at all levels of the organization by participating in company-wide trainings as their schedules allow (Bawany, 2015).
Furthermore, Bawany (2015) asserted that during annual performance reviews, leaders should encourage employees to work in conjunction with their managers to choose the areas of learning that they are willing to commit to taking on in the next year so that they assume responsibility for the knowledge that they gain. Finally, it is worth mentioning that CEO’s who are active champions of the learning that occurs within their organizations will find that their employees are better equipped to address market trends, serve customers better, and ultimately give their best work efforts to support the mission and vision of the organization (Bawany, 2015). Banway (2015) stated that excellent staff members produce winning outcomes, while poorly trained employees creates disappointing organizational results.