3 Ways to Make Leadership Development Work for You

Having recently read an article by Will Yakowicz about why leadership training is a huge waste, I felt it was time to write yet again about how you can make leadership development work for you.

Any training is a waste of time if it is a tick box exercise. Too often, senior managers see training as a panacea to resolve their problem staff. At Training for Results, we believe that training is about getting the results you need, so you get the return on your investment. With leadership development, that return may not be easily tangible or immediate. In fact, it normally takes up to 12 months to see real changes in behaviours. Nor can we do it alone.

1.  Encouraging Inside Out Development

Training should not be designed to get compliance. This needs to come from the inside-out and that is not going to happen in a single day’s intervention. It is, in my opinion, about changing mindsets and limiting beliefs. This does not happen overnight and requires good support and coaching from others. We need to tap into and value the innate wisdom, resilience, creativity and positive qualities of the delegate. Training that involves the delegates’ needs from the start and looks at a range of ways to get things done is more likely to achieve the results needed.

Leadership DevelopmentAs I point out to my delegates, there is no magic wand and it requires application back in the workplace. This means building a partnership with all stake holders, including line managers, to continue to support the development. There is nothing worse than a line manager, who says to a delegate after a training event, something like: ‘Nice course, good lunch, now back to work’. Worse still is: ‘You want to do what? – no way’

We encourage looking at the action plans and discussing how the line manager can support the delegate with their desired changes. It is about giving praise and recognition for changes made.

As a delegate, who has gone onto a senior role, explained:

‘I do revert back to your training, and realise you have to take time out to reflect on it. You can’t just put it in the drawer and forget about it. You have to go back to it. Leadership is continuous and you have to  continually be conscious of the role you are in, as your behaviour affects those both above and below you.’

2. Being In Line with the Values and Culture of the Business

Effective leadership development is about encouraging change which is right for the culture of the business. As I discovered with one prestigious company, trying to build empowering leadership in a command-and-control culture is like pushing water uphill with a rake.

The new skills need to be in line with the company’s values and endorsed by role models in high places. Ideally the development should start at the top to ensure the desired behaviours are role modelled. There is nothing more demotivating for a delegate, who is trying to improve, than to see the same inappropriate behaviours from their employers.

3. Bringing the Changes into Every Day Communication

We provide a summary of the day’s discussion and action plans to all stake holders. (Within the training agreement with the delegates) So many good ideas can be lost into the ether otherwise. We then endeavour to follow through after a suitable period to evaluate what skills are being implemented. This helps remind people what was agreed and what their commitment is.

Managers have a role in keeping the conversation going after the event. It may be praising the changes made; or supporting and encouraging when newly tried things fail. ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try again’ is fine, if you are not working in a blame culture.

I would like to share part of an email from one of my clients, which shows the type of follow through and commitment required from senior management. This is a young man, who has been on our Speaking as a Leader course. We had just done a strategic day with his management team. It demonstrates commitment from the top and keeps the conversation going.

“Thank you for attending the course last week and for getting involved. You have now had just over a week to take in everything covered during our successful training day….

As you all know, we are keen to keep this training process moving and would appreciate it if you all have a recap of the day by reading the document. This is also a document you may wish to refer to often; as a reminder of our management goals, strategies and targeted outcomes as a Senior Management Team (SMT)…..

I am very pleased that I have started to see some of the course content begin to appear in the work place from you as managers. I am sure as we grow as an SMT, this change will help us all and as we head into the new year we will see some great outcomes; both in your individual departments and across the company as a whole….”

It is this kind of encouragement and follow through which will gain greater returns. It is then about keeping the focus on the required results and holding people accountable.

Talk to us, with no obligation, about how you can get the best return on investment for leadership training. It is in everyone’s interest for training to be a success. Contact Training for Results

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