Carl Sanders-Edwards, Founder& CEO
Scaling or democratizing leadership development is one of the most defining challenges for people of our current generation. The nature and structure of work has changed. Jobs now require people at all levels to take leadership. This is thanks to automation and AI, which is taking away the ‘easy’ tasks and transforming the way people interact, work, and communicate. Today, leadership skills are necessary for everyone.
Historically this wasn’t the case; organizational leadership structures evolved through a hierarchical system. Here, a select few individuals execute leadership tasks, including overseeing work associated with strategy productivity and creativity, while frontline employees are involved in the execution. This led to the current Leadership development landscape, which is highly customized, expensive, and focused on a few executive-level people at the top. However, due to the changing nature of work, this is now insufficient.
Today, businesses are looking to enhance the leadership attributes of every individual across their organization and not just senior leaders. But the existing leadership development solutions have been unable to cater to this widespread need. They can’t scale to the people that need them, or they focus on the delivery of outdated content rather than experiences and changed behaviors. This is summarized by the key challenge in leadership development “what works doesn’t scale and what scales don’t work.”
To address this challenge, Adeption has developed an interactive leadership development application that combines the latest philosophies from lean, design thinking, behavior change, and adult development. The AI integrated with Adeption’s app emulates an executive coach. The platform takes people through a series of coaching sessions or workouts, and each workout asks its user reflective questions about their current situation and shares ideas for inspiration to develop a clear action plan for leaders to apply at work. The app then keeps the user accountable to this action with social and app-driven prompts before closing the loop with the user reflecting on the result and insights they got – thus unlocking the next workout to continue the process. These digital workouts are enabled through an AI-powered conversational interface. “Our goal is to provide high quality, scalable leadership development to reach deeply into organizations and support lots of people,” says Carl Sanders-Edwards, CEO and founder of Adeption.
“To be able to do so, you just have to focus more on the experiences that people have rather than just feeding them learning content.”
In many ways, Adeption is a leadership development gym for an organization
When a user starts conversing with the AI, Adeption builds a model of the situation that the user faces. The AI’s matching algorithm then recommends microlearning content from experts as well as insights from other leaders who have a deal with similar situations. Based on the insight gained, the app then invites the user to try and experiment with their leadership skills on the job over the next two weeks.
To facilitate this process of behavior change and development, Adeption supports users as part of cohorts. To increase accountability, each group also has a real coach, and users managers are also invited to provide feedback and have visibility of progress. When the user reflects on that experiment or action, it becomes content for future users of that workout while also helping the initial users develop their capacities and competencies in terms of learning rapidly in complex and ambiguous situations.
Clients deploy Adeption either via a library of ‘ready to go’ workouts lead by industry and leadership development experts or build their custom workouts and experiences. Sanders-Edwards notes that many large organizations that have an acute need for Adeption. One such organization was faring well with its traditional approach to leadership development in the senior ranks, with long term, cohort driven processes. However, they had a big gap when promoting individual contributors into leadership roles; many failed as the support was; “too little too late” for the large number of people involved. To provide a robust and credible experience in leadership development for its thousands of pre-management roles, the organization sought to partner with Adeption to start preparing people for leadership sooner. Adeption enabled a scalable leadership development experience lasting over nine months that large cohorts of the organization’s contributors could experience. It turned out to be extraordinarily successful as cohorts and leaders worldwide were able to develop by experiencing and practicing what it is like to be more proactive and creative and demonstrate leadership qualities before getting promoted.
“In many ways, Adeption is a leadership development gym for an organization,” states Sanders-Edwards. Now looking to strengthen leaders with feedback that they receive from the platform, Adeption has built a strong partnership with one of the worlds leading 360-degree feedback tools and has developed its own leadership mindset indicator, dubbing it as adding a mirror and blood test to the gym. With their current client base being large organizations, the company is now setting its sights on expanding into smaller high growth companies. By continuing to invest in AI, Adeption strives to support all people at work to develop continuously and organically to give them professional access to executive coaching like experience.