We're attending the 2014 Learning and Leadership Development Conference this week, and we hope some of you are, too. This annual conference, hosted by the Human Capital Institute, is a leading event for human resources professionals -- and anyone interested in helping their colleagues develop their skills and talents to benefit themselves and their companies.

This year's conference opens today with a session on Developing Talent in the Digital Age, with Soni Basi, Ph.D., Executive Director, Global Talent Development at the Estee Lauder Companies. Earlier this summer, Basi gave HCI a brief overview of what she expects to discuss in her session today:

Predictions are that by 2020, almost 50% of our workforce will be made up of millennials. So the question [for our company] is: Is it just about developing millennials, or is it about developing all of our employees to better understand the differences across the generations so they can all be ready to work in this new social economy and digital economy. We, of course, want everyone to develop and what we realized along the way was that helping the generations learn from one another is equally important to us.

Many companies have a "leader as teacher" approach and this approach usually includes a seasoned leader in the organization who is also a great facilitator and they apply their wisdom, their leadership and knowledge to teach the upcoming leadership pipeline. But my question for participants of the session is:  What if you turned this around? What if you had your leaders sit in a classroom and learn from the new entrants to the workforce? What would they learn? And would it be valuable to them? We really believe so, and my session will focus on the importance of the generations, how they can learn from one another and the importance of anyone at any level to teach and develop others.

Basi's session is just one of many designed to help today's business leaders address dramatic changes in the workforce. And that ability to harness diversity and treat change as an opportunity is key to many of the expert talks here on Big Think.

In one recent interview, Lisa Bodell, author of  Kill the Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution, pointed out that many companies have stopped focusing on change, and have instead chosen a path that resists change out of fear of the unknown: "I don't think that we're grooming leaders right now," she told us. "I think that we are grooming professional skeptics."  

You can watch our interview with Bodell here. And for more from HCI, be sure to check out their virtual conference online

 

Photo credit: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock