Discovering the Future of Leadership Development: ATD 2024 Takeaways

May 22, 2024

Learning and Connections Flourish at ATD

ATD 2024, the world’s largest learning and development conference, just wrapped up in New Orleans. This year’s event brought together thousands of HR and L&D pros from around the globe to recharge and share insights and trends on all things talent development!

DDI showcased its expertise at ATD, with top leadership experts delivering insightful sessions on key development topics:

  • How assessments personalize development and spark growth
  • Key Principles to energize leaders and deepen their impact
  • Exploring a thoughtful and responsible approach to AI for development
  • Strategies to make digital learning work better for leaders
  • A fresh perspective to high-potential programs 

Read on to learn what we were up to in NOLA and recap DDI sessions and top learnings.

Assessments Personalize Learning and Spark Growth

Assessment provides deep insight into leaders' strengths, gaps, styles, and personality. It also helps leaders grow and improve their performance. In this session led by Verity Creedy, DDI Vice President of Product Management, attendees learned how to use assessment for personalized leadership development. Creedy outlined the benefits of assessment for both leaders and HR, highlighting how to make it scalable and effective.

“Insights from assessments spark development and growth that feels personal, relevant, and meaningful,” Creedy said. “It’s personalized learning that’s not just about what leaders like or prefer. Assessments, when done right, point leaders to the development they need to grow.” She shared three leadership assessment options: perceptions, tests, and simulations, and when and how each type can be integrated in leadership development.

The bottom line? “Assessments are not what you do to leaders, it’s what we do for them. Assessment is development,” said Creedy.

5 Key Principles of Leadership That Change Lives

In a packed session, Tacy Byham, Ph.D., DDI CEO, presented the five Key Principles every leader needs to make an impact on their teams, the organization, and yes, in their personal lives as well. Byham shared the concept of “catalyst leaders” from her book Your First Leadership Job: How Catalyst Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others.

“Great leaders are catalysts who spark action in others and help them feel more connected, successful, and energized,” Byham said. “In the moment of change, catalyst leaders help others transform more quickly and easily.”

Catalyst leaders use DDI’s five Key Principles to make a more inclusive, empowered, and human workplace.

  1. Esteem
  2. Empathy
  3. Involvement
  4. Share
  5. Support

Exploring AI for Leadership Development

Artificial intelligence (AI) emerged as a hot topic in numerous sessions and presentations.

In this session, Patrick Connell, Ph.D., DDI Consulting Practice Leader, advanced the dialogue on how to use AI for leadership development.

There is tremendous potential for AI to enable leadership development, both for L&D teams and leaders. Connell reinforced that while there are AI tools available to use today, organizations will benefit from a long-range strategy to embrace Responsible AI.

He urged participants to focus on the value AI brings to leaders and L&D teams—not just on the technology. While there are many exciting opportunities with AI, organizations have a huge responsibility to mitigate risks and address drawbacks. Your organization can begin by establishing standards and processes with key internal stakeholders for Responsible AI.

Unlocking the Secrets to Make Digital Learning Work

This session covered best practices for making digital learning an integral part of successful leadership development.  

Karen Froistad, DDI Consultant, and Alex Smith, DDI Customer Success Director, delivered the top strategies L&D pros need to ensure their leaders benefit from a digital learning approach:

  • Help leaders build habits to learn digitally. Introduce digital learning at the beginning of formalized development, then continue it with curated playlists that they can use for ongoing development.
  • Embrace a growth mindset to iterate and improve. Try an approach, review the performance data, and then adjust the approach to enhance performance.
  • Personalize digital learning with ongoing assessments to deliver meaningful and relevant insights.

Fresh Approaches to High-Potential Programs

In his session, Matt Paese, Ph.D., DDI Senior Vice President of Leadership Insights, challenged L&D pros to rethink their high-potential program strategy. “Most organizations are focused on identifying and assessing potential—but not development and growth,” said Paese.

He revealed how organizations can flip their mindsets to drive successful hi-po programs. The key is to differentiate between performance, potential, and readiness in the succession process. Paese showed that potential is not a trait—it is a possibility. And we cannot fully understand someone’s potential until we take action to cultivate it, and then see how much they grow!

Wrapping Up

Pumped up and energized after ATD 2024? We sure are! We're still savoring the taste of freshly baked cookies from our booth! We're thrilled to help recharge and refuel L&D pros like you with new insights in leadership development. See you next year in Washington, DC!

Already missing ATD or looking to learn more? Explore DDI sessions, slides, and resources.