As far as positions go, the Chief Learning Officer (CLO) is sometimes considered the “little brother” to more established roles, like the much-revered CEO. But, despite still being fairly young in the timeline of business, the CLO might actually have more sway than you’d expect. While it’s unlikely that the CLO would ever replace a role such as CEO entirely, the two positions share a lot of common ground and a similar amount of influence. By syncing strategy and aligning vision, the CEO and CLO give the perfect one-two punch to keep moving forward.

CLO 2.0

Today’s CLO doesn’t much resemble the officers who directed training in the past. Today, CLOs are expected to be leaders, game changers and influencers in order to do their job effectively. With the ability to understand organization strategy, fill gaps in learning and development, assess and assimilate organization culture and change the dialogue surrounding talent management, CLOs take on the responsibility of driving forward motion. While other officers might utilize administrative tools to analyze, strategize and act, CLOs use the most powerful force of all: People.

With heavy sway over everything from workplace culture to social media, the CLO may be one of the most effective influencers of all. We know that where the head goes, the body follows: If employees aren’t the head of an organization, what is?

By overseeing the following facets of L&D, the CLO takes on the role of influencer:

  1. Onboarding. With the CLO at the helm, the directive is clear: Search for the right talent and then entice them onboard. The CLO sets the tone for the right type of employee and is responsible for getting them started.
  2. Retaining Talent. Once that new talent is successfully onboarded, it’s up to the CLO to help them understand their future with an organization, putting the right people in the right places to keep talent fulfilled while successfully filling responsibility gaps.
  3. Succession Planning. The CLO plans the trajectory for the best talent, keeping key players trained, primed and ready to take on new roles within the company. CLOs aren’t only responsible for employee retention, but ensuring that each person follows their ideal employment path to their fullest potential.
  4. Aligning Aptitude with Training. CLOs are adept at spotting learning gaps in the system, helping to create new learning programs that match employee aptitude with the right type of training, keeping the organizational machine running smoothly throughout.

The CLO has a unique opportunity to essentially steer the direction of an organization based on the power of the people. Creating this strategic shift can highlight the CLO’s power to utilize the workforce to ultimately affect much more than just isolated L&D. The CLO and CEO might be two entirely different roles, but their influence on the course and direction of an organization may, in fact, be parallel.