Good morning everyone. This will be my first “official” post (non-introductory) on this leadership blog. I want to discuss an article I recently read on Forbes.com. It was written by Mike Myatt and was titled, “The #1 Reason Leadership Development Fails”.
To synopsize the article, Mike states that leadership training/courses do not do what they intend, which is to develop a person’s leadership abilities. He adds that leadership development is not something that is learned in a classroom; rather, it is developed over time by the institute the leader works for. He illustrates that leadership training “presumes the need for indoctrination on systems, processes and techniques.” Mike states that leadership does not pivot on said systems, processes and techniques; instead, it pivots on advancements and progress.
For the most part, I agree with Mike. As a person that teaches leadership development, I completely understand that a three day course doesn’t infuse a person with years of leadership trial and error and experiences. But I disagree with Mike’s notion that leadership training is basically useless. Part of “development” is learning various techniques and perspectives. Said techniques and perspectives are tools a leader can use to drive change, progress, motivation and esprit de corps.
I liken it to a carpenter apprentice. To do his job, the apprentice has to learn how to operate the tools of the trade. He needs to know which specific tool does what and why. Through time, he will learn when and where to apply a specific tool to accomplish his goal. This concept is true for leaders as well. Training helps to enlighten leaders on various concepts and approaches (tools) to help them accomplish their, or the team’s, mission.
The absolute wrong approach to leadership training is to stand in front of men and women and tell them that if you do A, B & C, you will be a great leader. That’s not development, that’s bullshit. Development is having honest discussions about human nature and why subordinates do what they do. By having an understanding to the reasons why, leaders can better answer questions and gain insight on what positively or negatively influences their teams.
Again, I do agree with Mike’s article in that leadership development should be an internal process within any private of government agency. I also agree that it is a very bad habit for entities to send their supervisors to leadership training and expect that to be a “fix-all” step. The approach should be that leadership training is one of many steps in the development process. Identify what your tools are and when to use them. Over time, experience will dictate which tools work and which ones do not.
Well, that’s my two cents. I would love to discuss this topic if you are so interested.