Trends in Learning and Development 2022

Trends in Learning and Development 2022

Vincent Romano

Vincent Romano

Executive Client Director

The training landscape in 2022 has been largely shaped by the effects of companies returning to the office following lowering of COVID-19 restrictions. Employees are mobile, both physically returning to the office and moving organisations as part of The Great Resignation, impacting training needs and the delivery format. Learning and development as a result is very much front of mind for business leader as they seek to engage and retain their employees.

This article sets out the main trends and themes we have observed during 2022, drawing upon feedback from our clients (either anecdotally or from our surveys), as well from our network of Associates, Partners, and Consultants.

Delivery Format

There has been some debate over in-person training versus virtual training, with the consensus being that in-person training generally is more impactful, while virtual training is more convenient.

In-person is particularly more effective for higher value topics, such as high potential development, leadership, and diversity & inclusion programs. Not only are skillsets enhanced but character is built, and closer, long-term relationships are formed. Employers also have observed the broader benefits of in-person training being able to help build company culture and embed purpose and inclusivity. As a result, in person training has become the default where possible, but for training involving individuals across wider geographies, virtual training can be more economical and accessible.

Companies can adapt digital training for purpose using technology to help digital learning be more engaging, however, there is a lag in what learners expect compared to what companies are offering.

Top 3 Reasons Why In-Person Training is Preferred

  • Reward and incentivize employees to return to the office.
  • Develop core company values and culture.
  • Enhance employee engagement and team building.

Top 3 Reasons Why Virtual Training is Not Working

  • Zoom fatigue and low engagement (not switching on cameras or microphone)
  • Technology difficulties and connectivity
  • Not fit for purpose (limitation of physical activities).

Impact of Technology

This takes us nicely to the subject of technology and its impact on learning and development.

We note that hybrid training can be an extremely tricky mode of learning with lack of equity between in-person learners who are typically more engaged and virtual learners who are often isolated. The solution has been the creation of dedicated hybrid training facilities, with Singapore seeing the opening of Catapult which is Southeast Asia’s first leadership training hub designed to groom Asia’s next-generation leaders through immersive, experiential, and impactful learning journeys. All training rooms are hybrid enabled with cameras tracking facilitators movements, while other facilities include recording suites, and 180-degree and 360-degree immersive studios.

Although they have been around for a while, it is worth while noting the growing popularity of online resources such as LinkedIn Learning, Coursera and Udemy where employees select courses and learn at their own pace. Gamification, meanwhile, can provide a wrapper around these resources to help engage learners by rewarding completion of programs with points, badges, or redeemable vouchers.

Furthermore, there is a move towards Digital Certification of learning where learners will receive accreditation of programs they have attended in a digital wallet, verified by blockchain technology. As the accreditation is unique and verifiable, learners can use the accreditation to help with reimbursement of training costs or demonstration of programme completion to new employers. At Arcadia, we are proud to be working with one of our key partners to co-create our own digital certification – watch this space!

Virtual Reality is also moving into the learning arena as well with VR environments such as such as Oculus where you are exposed to a fully immersive virtual experience. Training takes place on a more individual basis but can achieve high level of engagement which can be useful for getting a specific message across as well as for events such as Executive Away Days, or for energising an audience.

Learning Topics

With in-person training returning, the demand for learning topics has also changed, however, we continue to see several themes persisting which continue to be topical. With teams, particularly regional teams, being able to come together in the one location, we have seen a demand for in person training as part of either Leadership Offsites or Sales Kick Offs, with more engaging and energising topics being requested, particularly from our Communication Suite

High Performing Teams – as leadership teams come together, often for the very first time due to changes in management personnel, the need to understand and build relationships with peers has meant that High Performing Teams was in significant demand, as was shown in our Singapore survey earlier this year.

Presentation Skills – with the return to the office, there has been a return to face-to-face presentations and as such there has been a noticeable uptake in demand for presentation skills programmes, specifically from sales teams for Pitching Skills training.

Executive Presence – like Presentation Skills, with fewer meetings taking place virtually, Executive Presence skills has continued to prove to be in heavy demand, particularly as part of Leadership offsites as a motivational and engaging segment.

Strategic Thinking –demand for Strategic Thinking training in 2022 has been by the need for employees to focus on problem solving skills and increasing employee’s connection to strategy. However, we expect this programme to continue to be popular in 2023 as companies deal with the fall out of the anticipated global recession and the need for companies to implement strategies to survive.

Diversity – unsurprising Diversity, Inclusion and Unconscious Bias training continues to be popular amongst multinationals whether to address specific issues or as part of corporate strategies to present the company as employers of choice.

High Potential Leadership Programmes – this includes both First Time Manager Development Programmes and Female Leadership Development Programmes. There is a strong need to create and maintain a strong bench of talent, particularly following the Pandemic where several senior expatriate leaders returned to their home countries leaving gaps in senior leadership teams. Furthermore, the lack of women in leadership continues to raise its head as a key area to address.

Innovation – innovation has been a key business topic in 2022 and we have seen this translate into demand for training programmes at both the employee and leadership level. We also anticipate this need to grow in 2023 with the anticipated recession as companies seek new market opportunities. Consequently, Arcadia is in the process of building a Leading for Innovation programme which will be available from Q1 of 2023

Imposter Syndrome – this is another popular topic trending in the business world and a phrase guaranteed to be included in year end lists of new words and phrases appearing in our vocabularies. The need to define what this means for companies and how we address this has meant that this is another programme scheduled for release by Arcadia later in 2023.

Executive Coaching – coaching has been in high demand for 2022 and the reasons for this are many and varied. Often coaching assignments have been requested to help individuals prepare for the next rung on the leadership ladder, sometimes for specific presentations, townhalls or media interviews. Other times coaching has been selected as an additional resource for support for individuals experiencing high pressure situations.

The Road Ahead

Even before the world was waking up to the pandemic, back in January 2020, the World Economic Forum said that in the next two years – by 2022 – 42% of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change. With the advent of the pandemic, change has accelerated this requirement even further (now 50% by 2025).

The demand for technological skills has mushroomed while younger generations are demanding not only training but practical opportunities to practice and demonstrate those skills. Throw in the current economic recovery providing massive opportunities in the job market for employees, companies are turning to learning more than ever to engage and retain employees (now potential Global downturn with a war for talent).

Organisations must be nimble and must listen to the demands and needs of its employees and learning is one of the main tools where organizations can deliver on those demands.


As companies struggle to retain and attract staff, training has had a renewed focus, after being somewhat neglected during the initial stages of the pandemic. Furthermore, training is key to companies reskilling as they innovate to survive in the post COVID business world, particularly with the anticipated Global Recession in 2023.

To conclude, there are four key trends organisation should consider:

  1. In-person Training – where possible, in-person training is the preference for companies, to engage employees and encourage face to face interactions. It is seen as having a higher value than prior to the pandemic and as a reward to employees.
  2. Virtual Training Convenience – as much as companies want in-person, the realisation is that people have got used to virtual formats and with the disparate APAC geography, virtual training is just easier and allows us to cover off larger amounts of participants.
  3. Technology – technology is always as at the forefront of training, and with immersive training options coming online, the possibilities for remote, engaging content are limitless.
  4. Leadership – the biggest demand we see continues to be for leadership programs – whether that be at Executive levels, for High Potentials/First Time Managers or for Women in Leadership and Asian Leaders Programs.

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Attracting and Retaining the Best Talent in Singapore

Attracting and Retaining the Best Talent in Singapore

Joe Goddard

Joe Goddard

Senior Consultant

As the dust settles and hybrid work-life is acceptable, flexibility acts as the cornerstone of any working culture. Coming into the office for 2 or 3 days per week is commonplace; it finally feels like this could be ‘the new norm’ for many years to come. 

However, at Arcadia, we like to dig deeper — not to just assume but question the change in behaviour and understand what’s making the workplace tick. And crucially what aspects of work-life require in-person engagements for everyone to get the biggest benefit.

A great place to start is to understand where leaders and individual contributors are spending their time and effort training and learning new skills.  There has been a seismic shift in how people participate in training programmes, with offerings that include a range of formats: face-to-face, e-learning, gamification, podcasts, and research papers, but which one of these has the greatest impact on building culture?

Survey Findings

We asked some of our senior leaders across 65 organisations1 in Singapore what their thoughts on the subject were.

Here's What We Found

In-person training still forms a key part of the broader training roadmap, as these activities do more than just teach new skills.

Although most organisations now have the capability for digital training, with obvious benefits associated with this method (e.g., accessibility to more people across multiple locations), it appears that the outlook for planned training across the remainder of 2022 is a mixed bag. 90% of organisations are implementing hybrid training (combination of in-person and digital) as opposed to all digital or all in-person.

  • The data suggest that there is a recognition that although in-person training could come with extra effort and cost, it still forms a key part of the broader training roadmap, especially as some skills are more impactful to learn in person.
  • In-person training forms a key part of building and maintaining closer bonds between teams, which is essential to drive purpose and culture. This is due to the nature of activities in workshops being more engaging and rewarding for attendees.
  • Training providers are now in a sweet spot, where different delivery methods are understood and accepted. The corporate world is now primed for innovation to maximise learning further. New ideas such as peer-to-peer (e.g., juniors coaching leaders) or digital innovations, like gamification, could feature heavily in future roadmaps.

Business-critical subjects are worth the extra spend and effort.

After 2 years of COVID, nothing beats face to face! We need to take as much opportunity we possibly can to meet, train, and bond face to face and not only make virtual the default.

We found that there is a clear trend towards certain subjects preferred for in-person training vs. virtual. These subjects are considered business-critical, not only for decision making but also for building culture, and therefore justify the extra spending and effort, often delivered with smaller group sizes.

With an emphasis on overall employee wellbeing, it’s essential that employers offer their teams an opportunity to properly engage in activities to help them to continue learning new ideas, beyond the traditional subjects of workplace training, into meatier subjects such as Resilience and Growth Mindset. If this need isn’t met, then it will be no surprise to see employees seeking an organisation elsewhere that satisfies this.

The key areas that these critical topics fall into are ones: 

  • With an aim to elevate the performance to exceptional (High performing teams, Executive Presence).
  • That are debate- and discussion-critical (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion), which gives all individuals an opportunity to shape company culture and process, e.g., steady performers as well as high performers.
  • That have direct implications on the direction of the business and develop strong leaders, essential for future growth (Strategic Thinking, Presentation Skills).

Virtual training brings great benefits such as bite sized learning, the ability to follow up with application and coaching labs, having the team together across multiple locations, inclusivity, and equity of learning opportunities. There is something unique and special, however, that supersedes this in a face-to-face environment. People are more present, less distracted, more human. It’s more organic. Participants can apply things in the moment, ask a question, interrupt, chime-in real-time. There is a certain energy in the group that allows for more.

Digital learning could have a negative impact on mindset, attitudes and culture, if not tailored to suit the audience

In addition to leaders’ desire to ensure that core topics are ringfenced for in-person engagement, there is also evidence to suggest appreciation that it gives to the overall workplace, where softer measures are essential, e.g., company values and purpose, team building, and engaging all individuals into shaping process. Too much digital learning that has not been tailored specifically for the audience could have a negative impact on mindset and attitudes.

To Summarise:

  • Organisations and leaders must work a lot harder to attract and retain talent, with employees wanting a greater emphasis on well-being and purpose. Individual contributors have reframed their attitudes to how they want to spend their working hours. It is therefore critical for leaders and trainers to observe the broader benefits of building company culture and the long-term payback of embedding purpose and inclusivity, often initiated whilst engaging in company activities such as in-person training.
  • Digital learning is still essential as the backbone of quickly upskilling employees, providing delivery is adapted to the digital environment, i.e., presenter-led programmes are still effective, but could also be complemented with other means where necessary, such as a combination of e-learning (self-paced, podcasts, videos, or gamification). Check out The Mindset Advantage podcast here. There is an interesting space to watch out for in the future here. The entire education sector has been waiting for a shakeup for decades, like how technology has shaped so many other industries.
  • For training, in-person will always be the most beneficial, impactful, and worth the extra effort for important topics, such as developing peak performers, diversity, equity and inclusion, and leadership. Not only are skillsets enhanced but the character is built, and closer, long-term relationships are formed.

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Why is Critical Thinking Important?

Why is Critical Thinking Important?

Matthew Crome

Matthew Crome

Senior Consultant

This article explores 3 questions

Why is critical thinking important?

What is the mindset required for critical thinking?

How can a critical thinking culture be nurtured in the workplace?

Why is critical thinking important?

The modern-day definition of critical thinking is widely attributed to the American Philosopher John Dewey. In his book ‘How Do We Think’ (1910), he defined critical thinking as ‘(the) active, persistent, careful consideration of a belief or supposed form of knowledge in light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusions to which it tends’ – Heavy stuff!

More simply put it is the process of analysing information in order to make a logical decision about the extent to which you believe something to be true or false.

It involves collecting and analysing relevant data from many sources so that we can make informed decisions based on logic. And therein lies the challenge, despite our best efforts to exercise clean logic we are all governed by our emotions. (Your emotions have just influenced your reaction to that last sentence!).

We live in a complex world and are saturated with information and data from multiple sources, many claiming to offer the definitive truth justified by the expertise of the author. These sources are often contrary, and we rarely have the luxury of time to wade through all the data before making a decision.

The stakes can be high. Careers and businesses live or die by the quality of the decisions made. The need for critical thinking is more important than ever when navigating the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world we operate in. We are expected to juggle many tasks at the same time within tight deadlines and demanding stakeholders all of which conspire against us when we need the time and headspace to apply critical thinking to our decision making.

What is the mindset required for critical thinking?

We, at Arcadia, are great believers in the importance of Mindset. It lies at the heart of everything we do, and a critical thinking mindset is key to being effective with this discipline.

There are many applied problem solving and decision-making processes that can be used. We also need to have a healthy, conscious awareness of the influence that our mindset plays in our ability to reason and assess the available data and information.

A simple and useful approach to keep your mindset in check might include asking critical thinking questions, e.g.

  • What do I already know?
  • What do they already know?
  • How do I know that?
  • How do they know that?
  • What am I trying to prove/understand?
  • What are they trying to prove?
  • What is my motivation?
  • What is their motivation?

Deliberately ask ‘What if…?’ questions that challenge common sense, current beliefs, and assumptions.

Be aware of your biases – 3 of the most common cognitive biases are:

Confirmation Bias – We like to be right and subconsciously align to people and ideas that agree with our thinking. It’s a tribal thing and cognitive diversity is called for.

Action Bias – Business drives us to swift action rather than ‘wasting time’ thinking something through. Invest time in the process and defend that time.

Association Bias – People have a tendency to connect the unconnected based on experience and folklore, e.g., Expensive means quality – you get what you pay for. Is this always true?

How can a critical thinking culture be nurtured in the workplace?

For critical thinking to work, it is essential that the individuals involved experience a sense of psychological safety in their team. They need to feel free to share ideas, without fear of ridicule. They need to feel safe to challenge the ideas of others without fear of negative consequence.

Without this fundamental feeling of safety, even the most well-intentioned leaders will struggle to gain the full benefit of the collective brain power of their teams. The question is how to create and nurture that environment.

In my voluntary work as a primary school governor, I recently observed a class of 6-year-old children practicing their critical thinking skills to help and support each other with their ideas. They each had the opportunity for their idea to be reviewed and critiqued by their peers and to a child, each experienced a positive and constructive evaluation of their idea, ultimately leading to better outcomes.  In turn, each child presented their idea to their classmates and then they followed a simple 5 step approach.

Step one – Stop, look, think, and notice the idea being shared. Significantly without judgement or comment. Just a few quiet moments being fully present with the idea.

Step two – The owner of the idea would explain their idea and their reasoning behind it.

Step three – Wondering. Others are encouraged to ask questions to help them understand further. Interestingly the questions were prefixed with ‘I wonder…’  e.g., ‘I wonder why you took that approach?’ or ‘I wonder how you saw that working?’.

Step four – The group now actively come forward with their suggestion and ideas to add and build upon the original thought.

Step five – Recognition. Speaking with the teacher, they commented that the successful embedding of this approach hinges upon this last step of praise and recognition of the behaviours demonstrated by the pupils throughout the exercise. 

I share this approach in this paper for the simple reason, it is simple.

There will be enough complexity with the issues being dealt with without making the process overly complicated. And whilst my example comes from primary school children, I was able to observe first hand how powerfully it impacted the class dynamic supporting an environment where individuals felt safe to share and challenge.

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Permission to be

Permission to Be

Matthew Crome

Matthew Crome

Senior Consultant

Imagine a gate in a fence that divides a field.

The field and the surrounding landscape paint a picture of all your life experiences: the people you have met, the places you have been and the adventures you have had. All those events that define you as the wonderful, unique person you are.

In my story, in my field, I am one side of the fence. Everyone else I’ve ever met is on the other side, and I’ve often wondered why.

The fence and the gate? There is nothing remarkable about either of them. Neither is imposing or threatening. It is easy to see what is beyond. There are no ‘Keep Out’ signs on the fence or locks on the gate. The fence is not so high that you can’t see over it, it’s not so solid that you can’t see past it. The same goes for the gate, although I suspect the gate will take some effort to push open – it may be stuck as it hasn’t been opened in a while.

The part of my field I’m focusing on right now is the bit that looks at the last 25+ years of my career in leadership development. The people I can see on the other side of the fence are a mix of colleagues, friends, bosses, clients, and delegates. They include some remarkable people from a range of cultures and countries, not to mention organisations and industries. And I have always been curious and fascinated to learn from their stories and experiences.

From where I’m standing, I look across and I pay real attention to those folks who are being extraordinary and achieving remarkable things in their lives. They are being courageous and skillful. They are being creative and imaginative. They are being bold and ambitious. They are being thoughtful and caring. And I can see them doing it all. In some cases, I taught them the skills and techniques to do and be those things.

The question I ask myself is: why do I stay here on my side of the fence in isolation and not push open the gate to be with the crowd? After all, I know about the things they are doing and, I can do some of those things they are doing. But I have realised that I haven’t given myself permission to be any of those things.  Instead, on my side of the fence I choose to be fearful and doubtful and whilst I know I’m missing out it feels, at least, familiar (I’ve been here a long time). I suspect that to others this shows up as apathy, procrastination, a lack of courage, ambition or even intellect. On my side of my fence my internal dialogue is one of being a fraud, a coward, an imposter, unworthy of the company of those talented people I admire. 

My friend and colleague Alistair Skellern wrote recently about the power and value of ‘constructive and positive self-talk’– a topic I’ve also taught for years. In response to Alistair’s article my team-mate, Guy Pollard, shared a quote with us from the American actor Wentworth Miller. He said: ‘If I spoke to my friends like I speak to myself, I wouldn’t have any friends.’ These two ideas really made me stop and think. Reflecting on some of my own self-talk I realise that I’ve slipped into the habit, sometimes, of giving myself a hard time.

On my journey I’ve heard stories about, and have experienced firsthand, organisations that talk a good talk about their culture but behave very differently. By contrast, those businesses that truly live their values are amazing places to be. I think this is why I choose to stand where I do; it’s somehow safer here on my side of the fence. I have learned to observe from a distance and protect myself from the harm caused by false promises and misplaced trust. My reluctance to push through the gate is also grounded in my fear of being hurt in some way.

Over the last two years however, that has all changed and I’ve made a couple of important decisions:

Decision #1

I’m now in a workplace that says and does the same thing. This congruence creates a nurturing, trusting and supportive environment. I’ve noticed my colleagues on the other side of the fence enjoying the benefits of it and, to a person, they have been calling and waving at me to come and join them. I have, at last, finally given myself permission to be safe. Despite sometimes feeling vulnerable and fearful, I feel safe in the knowledge that I am supported by those remarkable colleagues I work with and want to spend time with.

Decision #2

I’m now consciously practicing a more forgiving and positive conversation with myself, especially in those moments of self-doubt. I have to raise my voice sometimes, to break my habitual dialogue, so it is a work-in-progress. So far, so good.

I have at last pushed the gate open. It needed a good shove, as I expected it would. It is scary and exciting in equal measure and I’m looking forward to being a more complete version of myself with my colleagues. 

One final thought. I suspect there are other gates in my metaphorical fence, and I will deal with them when I need to. For now, as with any journey, it’s all about the first few steps.

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Why Trust Matters in Leadership Communication

Why Trust Matters in Leadership Communication

Cachet Prescott

Cachet Prescott

Client Director, People Experience

On any given day, leaders find themselves communicating with others in a variety of ways (verbally, nonverbally, body language, written, etc.). Communication lines flow between them and the receivers of their messages on a multitude of topics ranging from everyday communication to feedback to managing conflict to communicating change, and each connection provides an opportunity to either build up or chip away at the trust between all involved in the conversation.

Trust and communication have a reciprocal relationship. Your ability to communicate with others relies on how much they trust you (and vice versa), and how you communicate also impacts that trust. Trust bridges the gap between the words being said and how one perceives and receives your message. It makes the difference between simply hearing what is being expressed vs. finding the intended meaning in your words.

Trust in communication enables leaders to:

  • Build bridges and relationships
  • Establish rapport
  • Build consensus
  • Create feelings of belonging
  • Find common ground
  • Navigate conflict
  • Achieve goals
  • Gain buy-in
  • Inspire loyalty

The Impact of Trust (and Mistrust)

Some leaders believe that people will simply listen to, follow, or buy into an idea because of one’s title or level of seniority. But above and beyond who you are, people need to believe in what you say, and trust plays a vital, non-negotiable role in creating that understanding.

Without trust, what you communicate may be dismissed and ignored, creating a culture of mistrust, disconnection, disloyalty, exclusion, division and even fear.

Each instance of communication provides the opportunity for the person (or people) on the receiving end to determine how much they believe what you say as they mentally assess the answers for following questions for themselves:

Can I trust:

  • You as a person?
  • Your intentions?
  • That you will do what you say you will do?
  • That my thoughts matter in this conversation?
  • That how this conversation might impact me matters?

Measuring Trust

Take a moment to think about the leaders that you trust. Why do you trust them? What is about them that makes them trustworthy in your mind?

Many of the questions above are explored in the book, The Trusted Advisor where readers learn about the Trust Equation (which measures how much someone trusts you) and the four vital elements that contribute to one’s level of trustworthiness:

  • Credibility: How much someone trusts who you are (including your credentials) and what you say
  • Reliability: How consistent are you with your actions and words
  • Intimacy: How safe and secure does one feel with you
  • Self-Orientation: How selfless or selfish you are in the relationship

Think about and consider where you stand with your trustworthiness with those around you, and keep in mind that where you stand with one person may not be where you stand with another (and thus, equating to differing levels of trust in each of those relationships).

For the relationships that you feel you’ve developed a firm level of trust, ask yourself: what were the contributing factors to building trust with this person and how might I be able to apply them in other relationships to build and nurture trust?

Those relationships, however, where there may be weaker levels of trustworthiness present an opportunity to build that trust and ultimately, strengthen the communication bonds.

Communicating with Trust

When you think about your future conversations, consider how you can plant and water the seeds of trust each time you communicate with others.

Each interaction provides the space to proactively think through (and address as needed) the following questions:

  • Have I established the proper rapport with this person?
  • In what ways have I built trust with this person?
  • How can I continue to build and nurture trust with this person?
  • What does this person need from me to see me as trustworthy?

 You can also fortify your trust goodwill through:

  • Active listening
  • Clarity, transparency, and empathy in your messaging
  • Flexing your communication style to your audience
  • Showing interest in your audience and asking open-ended questions

Your Challenge: Choose one stakeholder that you communicate with and assess where you stand in terms of trustworthiness with that person and how that has impacted (positively or negatively) your relationship. Look for ways to either continuing growing or cultivate the trust between you.


Laundry, L. (14 Nov 2019). 8 Essential Leadership Communication Skills. Harvard Business School Online. Retrieved from

Maister, D.H., Green, C.H. & Galford, R.M. (2 Feb 2021). The Trusted Advisor: 20th Anniversary Edition. Free Press

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Age is Just a Number

Age is Just a Number

Jean Fuller

Jean Fuller

Resource Manager, EMEA

After twenty-five years working at IBM, I retired with a wealth of skills and experience and nowhere to go. Several months later, after hours of dog walking, housework, and coffee mornings, I thought “is this it?!”

Just as despair was beginning to set in, I received a call from Andy Patterson, my old boss at IBM, enquiring if I was interested in returning to the workforce and joining Arcadia Consulting. Eureka! A purpose again, return to work.

Ten years on, Arcadia Consulting has grown beyond all expectation, and I continue to be an integral member of their workforce. What I’m simply trying to say is…no matter what age, you are important and have a valuable contribution to make to the growth of our economy.

Arcadia has embraced the true meaning of ‘diversity’, where you don’t have to be at the beginning of your career, young and ambitious to be able to become a valued member of a successful team.

Real ‘diversity’ though isn’t about recruiting lots of different people. It’s about giving that diverse group a real sense of belonging and ‘belonging’ in a business demands a culture that respects everyone’s contribution, skills, perspectives and lets them flourish, speak out and challenge how things are done.

Some might call that psychological safety, I would call it caring, showing interest, being inclusive, collaboration and just teamwork.

I no longer feel part of an ‘invisible’ community that you join after reaching a certain age, but a valued member of a thriving successful team of amazing colleagues.

So, what’s in a number? Don’t let age be an obstacle that prevents you from tapping into all of the skills and experiences that you are capable of.

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A Better Me

A Better Me

Sharon Chow

Sharon Chow

Client Services Administrator, APAC

Jumping out of my comfort zone required courage. My desire to be a role model to my daughter and ensure she grows to be the best she can be, equipped me with this courage.

Prior to joining Arcadia, I spent 14 years in the same job, doing repetitive tasks every single day. Reflecting on my 2-year journey at Arcadia, I am proud of my growth and progression. It has emphasised to me that I can further my professional development and expand my horizons.

As I took my first baby steps and transitioned from my old world into my new world, it was almost overwhelming how much I needed to learn and develop, especially as the skill set required was different and I was exposed to a new industry.

Change is uncomfortable, and I discovered quickly that the change journey has hurdles and challenges that I had never anticipated. When I thought of giving up, I always asked myself, “is this the kind of role model I want to be for my daughter?”. The answer was always no.

My determination of being a role model kept me on track during the bumpy road. I learnt from my mistakes and errors and made sure I did better next time. I quickly adopted a strong growth mindset.

Typically, in life, we allude to a paradigm of win/lose or pass/fail. To challenge that paradigm, Arcadia have come up with a tool called Win, Learn, Change. I am grateful for the working environment, my friendly work team and learning this concept, which I practice regularly.

The tool helps you get closer to your goal (in my case, being my daughter’s role model), by changing your mindset from success/failure to Win, Learn, Change. The tool promotes continuous improvement by guiding individuals to focus on learning and success rather than the unconstructive idea of failure.


Quite often in our lives we’ll take the wins, but we won’t ask “what went well?” and why it was good. That’s the learning opportunity that is normally missed. We don’t just learn from the things that go badly; we also learn from the things that go well. Use these reflections as a future roadmap next time you are confronted with the same situation. Focus on what you did.

What did you do or think today that took you towards the achievement of your goal?


Things that didn’t work as you hoped yet provided learning.

What did you do today or think today that took you away from your goal?


Things to change for next time, action steps.

What can I do or think next time to take me closer to my goal?

Another important distinction to make here is that this is not a results tool, this a progress tool. This is something to apply on a regular basis. I find keeping a WLC (Win, Learn, Change) journal helps.  

If somebody asked me today why I jump out of my comfort zone and make changes in my life, I would answer very differently to how I would 2 years ago. I have built my confidence through travelling through the change curve many times and facing adversity. I know that I can only be my daughter’s role model when I am my best version of myself.

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“The Answer is Always in The Material”

“The Answer is Always in The Material”

Matt Worsdall

Matt Worsdall

Principal Consultant, EMEA

“The answer is always in the material” – maybe it even saved my life?

Just last week I was delivering a Growth Mindset workshop with a colleague, Steve Ellis. As often happens we were posed with a tricky question from a participant, being reasonably green in the world of delivery I was thankful to have a more “seasoned” professional by my (virtual) side who handles the question in what was nothing short of a sublime fashion, being respectful enough as not to offend but considered and direct enough to quash the question and put all responsibility to take action back on to the participant; I was so impressed by the display I even started grinning (hopefully no-one noticed!). After the session we ran through our usual feedback and debrief and I asked “how did you do that?”, his response was simple – “the answer is always in the material”.

This got me thinking, for those of you who know me, earlier this year I found myself in a spot of bother – I was in a critical condition with a double dose of heart and kidney failure – throughout my adult life I have said “make mine a double” on many occasions, however it looked like on this occasion that I had bitten off more than I could chew! Be careful what you wish for is probably the moral of this story. Anyway, several weeks of laying in a hospital bed really got me thinking, before starting at Arcadia I was a “passive” believer in the sentiment that mindset matters. Having previously worked as Personal Trainer and Recruiter I often would espouse the virtues of mindset without really knowing why – it just sounded good and was certainly fashionable and was an in-vogue thing to say.

So I set myself a challenge, now faced with a life or death situation “let’s see if this mindset stuff really works or is it just a load of fanciful guff”. Some of you may have seen the Arcadia Mindset Mondays series on Instagram where we are currently working our way through 10 winning behaviours, so as I sat in my hospital bed, instead of thinking about dialysis and kidney transplants I focused my attention to working my way through the 10 winning behaviours to see if I could employ any strategies that would assist me in my struggle, my breakthrough was astonishing.

Without wanting to turn this into a written workshop, three things really stood out to me;

Create a Winning Identity (as opposed to a dying one)

I really had to dig deep here to think about what I want to be know for, both personally and professionally and the label of “sick” wasn’t going to do (unless of course made in reference to my “sick” guitar playing”) – I had to consciously create an identity that would get me through this “I am strong and resilient”, “I can get through this”, “I will take better care of my body”. Everyday I repeated these positive affirmations until they became hard wired.

What could be good about this?

Well in the moment of diagnosis, seemingly nothing. But after the initial shock I purposefully tried to seek out the hidden opportunity behind this problem. I was surprisingly pleased with my findings;

  1. I am young enough that I can own this problem and still influence the outcome
  2. I now value my health and will respect my body
  3. This will force me to live a healthy lifestyle
  4. If this didn’t happen now, would I have survived it in 5 years time?
  5. I have a new found appreciation for pretty much everything
  6. I am so over ‘sweating the small stuff’
  7. I have been given a second chance at life – I am blessed…

The list goes on, I may even go as far to say this was potentially the best thing that could have happened to me at the time, certainly the most profound.

Living on "the slight edge"

Playing in a rock and roll band has always taught me to enjoy life on the edge, but how much on the edge I was living, I had become oblivious to. Only when looking back can I see that the small decisions I made every day took me slowly but surely to the cliff edge, then I fell, and boy was it painful! I now have focus and take enjoyment in making every decision count and thinking long term about the sum of everyday. Each day counts, more than I could ever have imagined.

The list could go on and on, but I have a word limit so hopefully that’s enough for today. So back to the beginning, when considering “the answer is always in the material”, I guess we will never truly know the extent of it’s affect, but for me, it is my belief, “that the material that saved my life”.

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Future Leaders

Future Leaders

Vivian Tam

Vivian Tam

Principal Consultant

Last week, Arcadia held our third and final session in our current webinar series. Mark Albas and Matt Lyon discussed how to identify and boost the development of key performers and high potential talent.

When we speak with our clients, we often find that there is a gap between current leaders and the next generation, and that whilst clients want to empower the next generation, they feel that they may not be quite ready yet. Arcadia will therefore discuss some key themes which will help companies upskill the next generation of leaders.

New Leadership Personas

The new generation of leaders emerging embody the new economy and are digitally savvy and innovative, but are perceived to complain too much and often unsupportive of ideas with which they are not engaged.

The best way to develop this individual is to embrace them and try to connect their personal purpose with their corporate purpose. As they are often a “first follower” they can become an important culture carrier within the business. Making them feel part of a project moves them from questioning and complaining to advocate. Importantly they also bring other colleagues into line with the company vision too.

How Do We Identify Talent?

To identify high potential, CEB highlight three key factors:

Aspiration – ability to rise to senior roles

Engagement – the ability to commit to the organisation and remain in challenging roles

Ability – to be more effective in more responsible and senior roles

At Arcadia we take a strengths-based approach to developing future leaders, using Zenger Folkman’s Extraordinary Leader and Extraordinary Performer assessment tools. These tools start with result first, including engagement and profitability, and then works back to identify competencies. As a result, Zenger Folkman have recognised which leadership competencies have the greatest and best correlations to business outcomes. There are 19 competencies in total across five main groups – personal capability, leading change, interpersonal skills, character and focus on results. However, one of the differences about this tool is that it identifies what people are great at, rather than finding out what the average leader is.

The concept is that an organisation is defined by its exceptional people rather than its average people, so it seeks to find out who has extraordinary competencies. Therefore, by identifying what people are extraordinary at and similarly what makes them so successful, we can help build these key competencies further. On the flip side, the tools also surface where your fatal flaws so these too can be addressed.

Leadership Development

Arcadia has identified four critical development needs in high potential / future leaders. By focusing our development programs around these four areas, we ensure that participants develop the right mindsets, skills, knowledge and agency to be seen as future leaders.

1. Mindset

We want to move people away from a “fixed mindset” where individuals have a fixed amount of knowledge and their abilities have plateaued. We move them instead towards a “growth mindset” where the individual believes that they can continually increase their abilities and improve at anything they want to. This can be manifest in challenges, obstacles, effort, skills, criticism or success of others. Ultimately our goal here is to move people out their comfort zones and challenge them.

2. Visibility 

Often people think that when it comes to creating an impression as a future leader, that you take all of your competencies and you promote how good you are at all of these things as part of your personal brand. However, research from our partner Zenger Folkman has shown that this is not the case. Instead, individuals should focus on what is known as the “halo effect”, here you really capitalize on an “F Trait”, which is one where you are very proficient in one certain area. If you are able to do this, then you create a really positive halo effect which will help you develop your brand, enabling those around you to see you as a potential future leader.

3. Organisational IQ 

There are two parts to this. Firstly: how well do you know the organisation? Do you know all the different departments, do know what all the products and services are, and do you know where all your offices are etc. The second part is do you know someone who you can reach out to and connect with in each of these areas. You don’t have to know everyone, but you need to know someone who can connect you to a key person. Over time as we have focused on this subject, we have found that the concept of organisational IQ has expanded and now we find there is an extra element. It’s not only what you know and who you can connect to, but who would connect with you? Who would put you in their organisational IQ? How many people would think of you when they want to connect with someone in your area.

4. Purposeful Leadership

One of the key trends in purposeful leadership is increasing people’s cultural intelligence. Cultural intelligence is the capability to function effectively across various cultural contexts whether these be national, ethnic, organizational, generational, gender, race or sexual orientation. Indeed, a survey by the Economist found that over 92% of leaders found that their biggest challenge was finding enough leaders with the CQ to navigate multinational firms. As such, the ability to be able to flex your value system, create psychological safety and demonstrate cultural intelligence in your actions is a huge driver for making people feel connected to the values that an organisation proposes.


We see future leaders coming from many different backgrounds – local talent, female talent, professional and specialized talent or just straight up high potentials. However, all these future leaders can benefit from development of their mindset, their visibility, their organizational IQ and their overall connection and sense of purpose to the firm. By developing these critical areas they are able to positively contribute to their future and the success of the organization.

If you would be interested in attending future events or would like further information on this topic please get in touch with Vivian Tam at

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EmPOWERment in a Hybrid World

EmPOWERment in a Hybrid World

Steve Ellis

Steve Ellis

Senior Consultant

Dictionary Definition - Empower

To give someone official or legal authority, or the freedom or confidence to do something:

  • to encourage and support the ability to do something
  • to empower is also to give legal authority for something

Some useful synonyms for us to explore:

control, authority, influence, command, ability, capacity, faculty, property, resources, authority, right, licence, privilege 

When do you feel you have the power to act? What conditions create the confidence for you to take action, move forward, make decisions?

Flatter structures demand more decision making without seniority or hierarchical based authority. Hybrid working has resulted in increased independent work patterns (notwithstanding the demand for collaboration) that in turn means more independent risk taking, decision making and action taking.

What can leaders and organisations do to ensure that increased independent accountability/ responsibility is matched with empowerment?  After all accountability without empowerment is simply abdication or worse.

5 Strategies to Empowerment:

  1. Information
  2. Capability
  3. Authority
  4. Feedback
  5. Relationships

1. Information

Many commentators are now talking about ‘Truth to Power’. Leaders will need to share as much truth as they can within parameters of risk and not status or ego. The absence of information and feeling ‘in the dark’ reduces the confidence to act. Be transparent with vision, strategy, data, finances, implications, risks. Leaders cannot always be around to share the information especially in a hybrid environment, so it is important to do this systematically and at scale. Create information sharing and knowledge sharing environments and management systems.

As Louise Hay stated: ‘People are doing the best with what they know’ and ‘if they knew better, they’d do better’.

2. Capability

People are confident to take action when they trust themselves and their own knowledge, skills and process for execution. In a hybrid world where social learning, learning from colleagues sitting next to you and where waiting for the next training course is not always an option, the Learning and Development team and business leaders will need to provide the necessary knowledge and skills on an on-demand, asynchronous and in a personalised way. Organisations will need a coaching culture where leaders are proactive and agile in their support and responsiveness to the capability needs of the team. Being on the receiving end of great coaching will also teach employees to be great coaches too.

3. Authority

What are the rules? What is legal? Am I allowed to do this/ that? Permission to act needs to be very visible and overt. Bureaucracy, red tape, inconsistency and excessively complex processes of decision making is only made more challenging when the team of people are across multiple sites. Providing the team with clear descriptions of the Legal and risk framework will go some considerable way to reducing the fear. Adopting an agile and adaptive approach where people take action and apologise / learn later will further reduce that fear of failure and reprisals, Authority is real and perceived. Perception is a cultural thing.

4. Feedback

Feedback is the food of champions! It is also the food for empowerment. The more data I have about myself, my actions, behaviours, direct and indirect outcomes the more choices I have. Awareness drives understanding, choice, control and performance.

The things I am aware of I can control. The things I am unaware of control me.

Leaders would be well served to institutionalise a ‘Win, learn, Change’ culture where colleagues reflect on ‘what is working well’, what is not working that we can learn from’ and ‘what can we change’. Continued affirmation of the wins drives confidence whilst focusing on the learns and the changes drives proactivity, accountability, awareness, insight and ownership of issues. Leaders need to focus on coaching + feedback rather than being directive.  Being directive increases dependence.  Coaching drives independence. Once established the culture of feedback can and arguably must work both ways with juniors providing feedback to seniors.

5. Relationships

Everyone should feel empowered to make decisions for the good of the business, its employees, customers and society.  Why would you not want that? It’s difficult to provide that value living in splendid isolation.  Relationships are key and broker the development of interdependence fostered through individual empowerment and collaboration.

Underpinning relationships is:

  • Trust
  • Psychological safety
  • Respect for diversity

When this is achieved, we witness the behaviours of:

  • Collaboration
  • Networking
  • Ideation and creativity

Collective Empowerment

Strategies 1-4 create independence. It is the building of relationships, connections and belonging that builds interdependence – collective empowerment.

Empowerment is a cultural outcome. It depends on a particular leadership style adopted by the organisation from sales and marketing, operations, supply chain, manufacturing HR, IT and Finance.  Any business area that is disempowered by controlling directive leaders will create a bottle neck of decision making and action taking that will affect the rest of the organisation, it’s agility and delivery to customers. The C-Suite must explicitly align and communicate the empowerment leadership model to the team and role model the behaviours themselves. This needs to be met with a ‘ready’ workforce – ready to act, be entrepreneurial and innovative and needs to be reflected on recruitment, onboarding, KPI’s/ measurement, rewards and recognition.

Empowerment isn’t a sentence “you are empowered” but rather a culture borne from a leadership model and leadership capabilities.

If you would like further information on this topic please get in touch with Steve at

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