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updated: 8/16/2019 10:00 AM

Investing in your team requires an investment in yourself

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  • Ali O'Brien

    Ali O'Brien


As an executive leader, you're motivated to ensure your team stays relevant within the constantly changing world of innovation. This takes intentionality, strategic thinking and investments in your people. Often, we are focused on deploying talent development across the organization and overlook ourselves. Yet, to truly drive the organization to achieve, it takes commitment to your own continuous growth in order to stay on top of technology and the evolving workforce. This type of environment demands a leader get creative in sourcing their executive education.

A high quality option that may be new to your portfolio is your local community college. To match today's agile business environments, leaders are challenged to find tailored educational opportunities that complement their company's mission and pace of change. Community colleges offer unexpected strengths in time, format, top local expertise and adaptability of content, all of which are essential to the valuable time of an executive.

As accredited institutions of higher education, community colleges are in the business of designing and delivering curriculum that fits the needs of the local community and workforce. The adaptability shines through with the ability to tailor learning experiences for leaders across a wide range of topics. From technology applications, team building, executive coaching and everything in between, approach a community college and you will find not only a portfolio of options ready off the shelf, but a network of subject matter experts to develop an agile solution to match your needs.

The luxury of taking two to three years to complete an executive education experience is gone. In that amount of time there are an overwhelming number of advancements across industry sectors that present new challenges and opportunities. Executives are inspired by how to overcome challenges and solve problems. Community colleges are inspired to design educational experiences that allow you to leave a training and put what you learned immediately in to practice. It's what they do every day for students in associate degree programs and that foundation translates to how they deliver training solutions for businesses. To be well-prepared to capitalize on those changes, a leader needs access to an educational partner that understands the urgency to not only advance their learning, but also to apply it the next day.

Community college networks of highly-skilled trainers are wide and deep by necessity. These colleges are creating the next pipeline of workforce talent, requiring their programs stay directly connected to advisory business partners in order to adapt to industry trends. This results in relationships with top field professionals who become more than simply advisors to the community college -- they are the instructors and trainers who bring their expertise to life in the classroom. Executive leaders want trusted resources when investing in professional development. As accredited institutions of higher education, community colleges have ingrained integrity and authority in everything they do by employing highly rated content experts.

Community colleges are in this work for the long haul. They are not a consultant with an hourly rate who may move on to the next project and leave a client stranded. This allows for sustained commitments to test approaches and programs, measure effectiveness, and continue tailoring solutions based on the evolution of the executive leader and their business.

If you're an executive or senior leader, don't overlook your own development or this valuable resource in your community. Achieving growth in local business is a shared goal and community colleges stand ready to meet your executive education needs as a strategic partner.

• Ali O'Brien, Ed.D., is vice president of community & workforce partnerships at College of Lake County in Grayslake.