The recipe for great leadership training includes these 5 ingredients

The recipe for great leadership training

Many of us have done leadership training for work, come back to the office and thought: “That was a huge waste of time”. Or returned with the best of intentions but realised, six months on, we never actually used any of skills we learned on the course.

So, what makes leadership development programs effective?

We spent months researching leadership and management courses, in an effort to develop a new way of thinking about it.

Our new paper, published in the journal Humanities & Social Sciences Communications, argues there are five key ingredients needed to make leadership training worthwhile.

So, what do managers need to know before spending money and time on sending their staff off to leadership training?

1. The employee must want to be there

Effective leaders are self-motivated learners. Basically, if the staff member isn’t motivated, they won’t learn. So there is no point in managers sending unwilling staff members off to leadership training.

Our research suggests staff need to self-nominate for leadership development courses. Those who put their hand up to this kind of training will be intrinsically motivated learners.

2. Managers need to let staff use their new leadership skills at work

Many leadership courses give guidance on how to approach certain challenges at work, such as managing conflict or leading a change process.

But this guidance is of little value if the staff member doing the training can’t practise their newfound skills.

Managers need to ensure the skills staff members learn at training can be applied and practised. That means giving your staff the time, opportunities and support to use what they learned at leadership training.

Managers need to give their staff who have done leadership training the opportunity to take on new challenges at work in a psychologically safe context (staff will also need their regular workload reduced so they can do this new work).

For example, the leadership program could run concurrently with a workplace change such as implementing a new system or process. The person doing the leadership training could be supported by their boss to take carriage of this implementation.

3. Managers need to cultivate a continuous learning mindset

Effective learning at work requires a combination of skills. These include:

  • self-awareness about one’s learning style
  • being open to new learning methods and technologies
  • being able to change the way you do things at work when new opportunities arise
  • being able to regularly reflect on learning experiences, successes and failures.

In practice, this means managers need to treat leadership training not as a one-off but as part of a broader culture of learning at work.

Managers can support this culture of learning this by, for example, having monthly meetings at which staff can talk openly and constructively about what’s worked lately, what hasn’t, and why. Managers can also ensure staff are given adequate training on new technologies, so they feel more confident about technological change at work.

Managers may also want to find ways to offer different types of learning opportunities at work. Some staff members will thrive in a group work environment; others will prefer to study a manual themselves, watch an instructional video or do a short online course.

If managers cultivate a culture of continuous learning at work, it means that when staff go off to leadership training, they will be more able to absorb and apply the lessons.

4. Managers need to ensure training is delivered by good facilitators

A crucial feature of leadership training is ensuring there is a high-quality facilitator.

A good course facilitator doesn’t just give a lecture and then answer questions. They also help participants find appropriate applied learning projects, help them learn self-reflection skills, and provide coaching and feedback.

They also play a crucial role in supporting individual and group learning.

In practice, this means managers need to do some due diligence before sending staff off to a leadership training course.

That might involve reading reviews, getting feedback from people who have already done the course, and carefully checking the credentials of the facilitator.

5. Organisations need both individual leaders and collective leadership

Successful organisations don’t just have good individual leaders. They also need collective leadership. That means developing a culture at work that values:

  • learning
  • innovation
  • being adaptable
  • being able to deal with continuous change.

Managers can foster this culture of collective leadership at work by facilitating honest, safe conversations about innovation and change.

It means making all staff aware it’s everyone’s job to identify ways the organisation can improve, rather than just relying on one or two leaders.

It’s crucial managers find leadership training courses that can embed this message into their training.

Change is all around us, whether that’s climate change, economic change or technological change with the development of AI. The workplaces that will survive and thrive in this era of rapid change are those that take skills development seriously.

Treating leadership training as a box-ticking exercise won’t cut it. Good leadership training is crucial to developing good leadership, but managers need to make sure the course is actually worth it in the first place.

[If you’re thinking about leadership training, check out this free, ready-made, expert training course for your NFP’s managers, direct from the experts at Google.]

This is a guest post by , Pro Vice Chancellor, Centre for Organisational Change and Agility, Torrens University Australia and Professor and Director, Centre for Organisational Change and Agility, Torrens University Australia. Republished with permission from The Conversation. You can read the original here.

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Name *
  • Website