How To Develop Emerging Training Leaders In Your Organization

What it takes to encourage and grow emerging training leaders in your company.

Each year, Training magazine honors emerging training leaders nominated by their fellow workers or industry peers. This past year, judges from the Editorial Advisory Board selected 25 winners from nearly 60 nominations submitted (see the winner profiles on p. 22). Training magazine will honor these emerging training leaders and formally present them with their awards at the awards ceremony held during the Training 2020 Conference & Expo at Disney World’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, FL, February 24-26, 2020 (

My thoughts are that there should be significantly more than 60 potential nominees who fit the bill as emerging training leaders.

How can you help more of your Training and Learning and Development (L&D) professionals qualify for this award in future years?


The first thing to do is identify which of the professionals in your Training department have been in the training industry for a minimum of two years, but no more than 10 years, which is one requirement for nomination.

Look beyond their talents and abilities with training and learning and development, and consider their behaviors and attitudes toward becoming a leader. Some individuals might need some pushing out of their comfort zone to rise to the occasion.

Then create a decision matrix using the identified candidates and check off which individuals consistently show excellent work performance. Who are the ones who live the organizational values all the time and have their own strong personal values, too? Emerging training leaders are people who are constantly growing and express a desire to develop new skills. They are willing to take on new responsibilities when asked and show good leadership skills and teamwork when working with others.

One way to see how individuals handle challenges and growth potential is to assign them new responsibilities. Perhaps Human Resources wants new training on content such as handling frequently asked questions to place on iPads for prospective job candidates to view as they are waiting to be interviewed. Or perhaps they are assigned to take the organization’s leadership development program to the next level by helping leaders learn how to expand their professional and personal networks for deeper mentoring opportunities both inside and outside the organization.


A common theme in most emerging leadership programs is the requirement for participants to complete a project that will help them grow, collaborate with others, and contribute something to the organization. Such projects should:

  • Allow for personal growth as an emerging training leader
  • Research and investigate best practices outside of the organization
  • Anticipate future needs of the organization and redefine or reinvent new ways of learning to support talent management
  • Contribute a learning and development outcome aligned with the organization’s business and/or people strategies
  • Feature ongoing application of skills learned and relationships made after they complete the project

Emerging training leaders most likely will report to an executive sponsor for the project development and work with them to understand the business implications of their assignment. They should schedule regular feedback sessions with the peers they are directly working with to learn how they are doing and request input for how they can improve. And they should seek constructive criticism from those utilizing the training project once done.

A training/learning and development project should demonstrate how the individual manages and leads a group of people and provide measurable impact toward the organizational strategic goal.


Another criterion for the Emerging Training Leaders Award is the potential to lead the Training or Learning and Development function at an organization in the next one to 10 years.

To position Training or L&D as an ally to business growth and development, emerging training leaders have to understand business operations and strategy. Training and L&D managers oversee staff and plan and coordinate programs to enhance the knowledge and skills of all the employees of an entire organization.

They must build organizational teams and networking skills so they can understand how to interact with other managers across the organization. In addition, if emerging training leaders do not show sufficient business acumen, they cannot show how training can produce a solid return on investment.

According to the 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of Training/L&D managers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. Job prospects should be favorable because of the constant need for workplace training and education.

The fortunate outcome for any emerging training leader is that future training and development will always need managers in nearly every industry. Most candidates need a combination of education and related work experience to become a Training/L&D manager. Recommending your Training/L&D professionals be involved in your organization’s emerging leaders program is one way to elevate the role of such professionals.

Consider what your organization needs to be doing to increase the number of potential emerging training leader candidates—not only to win next year’s Training magazine Emerging Training Leaders Award, but for the growth and success of your organization, too.

Roy Saunderson, MA, CRP, is author of “GIVING the Real Recognition Way” and Chief Learning Officer at Rideau Recognition Solutions. His consulting and learning skills focus on helping companies “give real recognition the right way wherever they are.” For recognition insights, visit: For more information, e-mail him at or visit

Roy Saunderson, MA, CRP
Roy Saunderson, MA, CRP, is author of “Practicing Recognition” and Chief Learning Officer at Rideau Recognition Solutions. His consulting and learning skills focus on helping companies “give real recognition the right way wherever they are.” For recognition insights, visit: For more information, e-mail him at: or visit: