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There was a time when there was less or no emphasis on learning and development of employees in an organization. There was a lot of emphasis on retention and engagement of employees but the traditional way was not the answer. Especially when older employees were retiring and young employees were not being properly engaged. Leading to high attrition rates in an organization.

And thus to address the problem the then CEO of GE (Garrison Engineers) John Francis “Jack” Welch Jr. in 1989 coined the term Chief Learning Officer for one of his colleague Stephen Kerr who was a consultant in the firm then. Since then there has been no looking back for the roles of CLO in an organization.

Now with companies going digital, there has been yet another shift in the roles of a chief learning officer at any organization. Let’s understand what it means for both CLOs and an organization as whole.

Chief Learning Officer & Digital Era

The role of a CLO went under tremendous change when organizations experienced digital revolution. It is interesting to note that the digital revolution lead to the increase in demand for learning to operate in the flow of an employee’s daily work life, along with a need to truly empower employees to get skills on demand.

With this transformation in an organization, the role of the CLO went under a transformation and evolved from traditionally focusing on corporate training programs to concentrating on becoming a strategic business partner to deliver measurable learning solutions, which aligned with organizational goals.

In addition to all this digital revolution, the data analytics ensured that chief learning officer was now accountable for an ROI in an organization. With the data analytics, a CLO can keep a track on all the learning and development programs and thus their role in an organization became more important.

Keeping all this digital revolution in mind, the top management concluded that the role of chief learning officer has now become more purpose-driven and has to be woven into the fabric of business decisions now more than ever. Indeed, the inference being that CLOs need to be able to lead learning like a business.

Top Chief Learning Officer & What They Bring to the Table

Interestingly, the CLOs worldwide have recognized their importance in an organization and doing their best to strengthen their position in an organization. Here’s how they are doing it –

The top chief learning officers worldwide realized that in order for an organization to be successful they need to either have these three skills inbuilt or acquire them over time. Here are those three important skills

  1. Learning agility
  2. Emotional intelligence
  3. Cultural Dexterity

With these three important skills, a chief learning officer can maneuver the organization to its successful achievement of its goals. Here’s how –

A chief learning officer ensures that the valued talented employees are engaged and leadership skills are developed from early stage, which is an important factor required for succession planning.


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