James Robert Engel (Chief Learning Architect), SEACJames Robert Engel (Chief Learning Architect)
For effective leadership development, paying attention to the learner’s context rather than injecting them with heavy content doses can go miles when crossing the bridge to required future capabilities. What sets great training apart? Today’s leadership development has evolved to where the leader’s perspective and context is center stage replacing the traditional 3-day training programs and bulky textbooks.

With knowledge flowing from endless digital channels, leaders have overwhelming options for browsing content. But, what they really want is contextually appropriate content and tools. Leadership development has scaled up massively with digital interfaces communicating information in bite-sized learning nuggets that are easy-to-digest, focusing on one learning objective at a time with all the latest digital learning support tools and concepts.

Old training forms (such as seminar-based, lecture-style trainings) have low retention for leaders, require costly funding, and generate little to no ROI. Moreover, the older style of leadership training does not connect the leader with the rest of the organization. To address demands posed by Thailand leaders, the Southeast Asia Center (SEAC) has expanded leadership training beyond the old ways and boring e-learning. Development initiatives need to meet the leaders’ needs of great content, in context, when and where they need it. SEAC has made learning more engaging and interactive by introducing 4 Line Learning, an innovative one-of-a-kind learning methodology. “To engage and communicate with everyone at every level and understand how each person ties in to the whole, leaders need strategic learning that gives them the right approach for stepping up the organization as a whole,” says Arinya Talerngsri, CEO of SEAC.

Leaders get a complete perspective of their new role by using 4 Line Learning. It consists of four components, as the name suggests. The first component, OnLine, is the use of online/digital core content to give learners the foundation, the core knowledge they need on a topic or skill area. The next stage, InLine, involves live virtual or face-to-face classes where learners join interactive workshops focused on linking content, skills & their context. The third element, FrontLine, supports the learner in applying their new mindsets, skillsets & toolsets in their life and work. The final part, the BeeLine, is social learning, which could include unpacking sessions, community of practice groups, refresh/ review sessions, sharing lessons learned/ mistakes they have made along the way, and how they can overcome them. “SEAC reinforces to their entrepreneurial leaders that formal training is 10- 20 percent, the other 80- 90 percent is learning gained through reflection, application and sharing experiences,” remarks Arinya.

What further differentiates SEAC from other people development companies is their 5 Phase development process. This process dramatically increases the learner buy-in, onboarding and awareness before the 4 Line Learning begins. SEACintensively engages the program sponsors, the company, and the leaders to understand what the expected outcome is, letting the learners know where they are right now and what benefits await them and the company at the end. Before the learning starts SEAC designs the program backward from the outcome blending over seventy different 4 Line Learning activities.

The need is to have multiple lanes on that bridge to their future capability and do it from a leader or learner-centric viewpoint

Learning in Bite-sized Modules for Fast-paced Leaders

Nissan, the automobile manufacturer, approached SEAC with the need to develop 18 top future leaders for Asia. SEAC did not put the content ahead of the context. Nissan had specific outcomes in mind for their leaders. So, SEAC went backward in re-evaluating the learning process at every stage with that context in mind. Bringing that aspect of reallife to the fore, the SEAC team, working with Nissan, blended multiple, relevant leadership & mindset frameworks with a variety of ‘beyond the classroom’ experiences and activities. SEAC gave leaders a foundational grounding on how to deal with day-to-day leadership with employees. After that, they focused on shifting 2 key mindsets: outward mindset, and growth mindset since mindset drives behavior. Simply put, a shift in mindset helps leaders to become self-aware and see their impact on others, how they can better collaborate with and help others across the organization. SEAC worked with the talent group on building influence and collaboration with all their stakeholders, thus increasing the speed and quality of communication around them. Conversations shifted from the past to the future, from blame to possibility. This solutionfocused approach included design thinking tools where leaders identified impact projects to focus on. They went on ‘missions,’ updated progress through impact presentations, community sharing sessions, and team coaching sessions. These frameworks helped Nissan scale up their future leaders with constant action application and sharing all the way through.

As an EdTech that believes in empowering lives through learning, SEAC’s Lifelong Learning Center inspires growth and change for a better future through curated future skills courses and executive development programs. For developing skills through curricula, SEAC utilizes an online learning marketplace and community, YourNextU, to help organizations and individuals understand and build future leadership mindsets and skills. SEAC is the only learning market place in the world built by learners, for learners for their current and future context. It delivers over 4,000 live learning events yearly, 1,000 different topics and skill areas through 60 different learning elements. They have a learner-driven concept unlike anything else in Asia. The company supports an ecosystem of 30,000 learners, a member-driven knowledgebase, where learners themselves contribute to the library of courses, materials, and the community.

Better Learning Methods to Keep Pace with Current Leaders

Arinya Talerngsri feels that her journey has been a transformative one over the years. She and her team are constantly evolving with the changing needs of the market and learners. Going ahead, SEAC wants to create even better experiences for Southeast Asia learners. They are continuously adding the best new experiences, tools & content to fit the learner’s context and needs. SEAC is rapidly shifting from trainer-centered to learner-centered. By the end of 2023, SEAC plans to introduce an AI and machine learning-enabled proprietary platform for people to identify their learning needs and help them build their own journey based on who they are, where they are, and what they want to be. Arinya concludes, “The need is to have multiple lanes on that bridge to their future capability and do it from a leader or learner-centric viewpoint.”