Leadership Training

Leadership DevelopmentOnce upon a time . . .

George was seen as an up-and-coming leader in the organization. He was able to earn the respect and confidence of the people who worked with him. Seen by those in senior leadership, he was included in the company’s development program and scheduled to attend a leadership development workshop.

George was ecstatic! He loved the organization and wanted to move up and contribute as much as he could. He saw this opportunity as a positive step in that progression. Plus, he had some challenges in his job and hoped to learn some techniques to deal with them successfully.

After a short briefing, George didn’t hear much about the training anymore until about a week before it began. An email provided him all of the details and he was excited once again. Excited, that is, until he looked at his calendar and saw how loaded it was.

Because the training meant so much to him, he was determined to be focused and make the most out of it. So he worked hard to catch up with all his projects before leaving for the workshop.

George fell in love . . . with the workshop. The facilitator was great, the content fantastic, and the food was excellent! He was so motivated by the new ideas and people he met. His confidence soared as they practiced some of the things they learned. Before the program ended, he made an action plan and left the two days completely stoked up with all the lessons he learned . . . and how he would be able to apply it back at work.

The Day After

George awoke the next morning and reviewed his action plan. He was energized knowing what he would do to be a better leader, starting today. Simply amazing.

As he fired up his computer and checked his voice mail . . . 23 messages.

His heart sank a little. As he listened to the messages, taking notes (when needed) on his next steps, he opened up his email and found an even more depressing sight – 91 new emails. Making a quick glance, he found there was little fluff – it wasn’t 20 serious emails and a bunch of readings or jokes. It was solid 91 emails to read, work through, reply to and take action NOW.

After getting a cup of coffee, George went to say hello to his team. It took some time because they had questions and things they wanted to talk about. This is a natural phenomenon which happens only when one is missing for a day, how much more for two days. The time is 9:45 and George was back at his desk, ready to tackle all the messages – including the 17 new emails that made their way through while he was out.

By 3:00 he had mostly forgotten about his action plan . . . remembered it only when he opened his briefcase. He took it out and looked at it sadly. He was still committed to working on those items, but they would have to wait – the next project meeting is set tomorrow . . . whole day.

. . . Looking Back

Perhaps the situation above sounds familiar to you. What’s written up to “The Day After” looks great: a willing learner, a well designed workshop, and a person leaving excited about his action plan. This story might be a bit too rosy. Admittedly, not every one who attends training will be as excited and motivated as George. In the end, however, it doesn’t really matter – because a highly motivated person like George won’t get as much from this effort as he could, even if he wants to.

The point is . . .

While most leadership development programs focus on developing a great training program, it’s only a part of the overall likelihood of success – just one side of the equation.

You see, training is an event, but learning (including leadership development) is a process.

We don’t learn important, complex life skills in brief instant. Of course, we can get an insight, an “aha,” an inspiration. In an event, we learn ideas, approaches, checklists, knowledge. But skills come to us over time – not in a “one-shot, one-time” training course (regardless of how well it is designed or how awesome the trainer is). Skill is developed . . . with practice and application.

Leadership development is a process. As long as we confuse those efforts as events, the return on those investments will be modicum, at its best.

Much is written about specific things that can be done to make the process more effective, but anyone can start on their own. Reread the story above. Think about your situation. Then outline a list of things you can do to make your leadership development process a success, be it for yourself or your organization’s.

. . . and while everybody argues whether leaders are born or made, I would say,
Leaders are made, after they were born . . .

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