How do people learn to be leaders?
That’s the question leadership consultant and thought leader Robert J. Thomas answered at a leadership academy event I recently helped organize. Speaking from his book Crucibles of Leadership, Thomas demonstrated that simply taking a course on leadership would do little to transform leadership abilities. In fact, knowledge plays only a small role in a leader’s effectiveness, despite the high price often invested in higher education.
Here is a sample of the elements that transform ordinary people into great leaders.
As a talent development professional, I’ve been privileged to lead, observe and participate in many types of learning and training events. I’m often invited by vendors to sit in on their training in the hopes I’ll make a purchase.
I can say firsthand there are some amazing learning events out there. Unfortunately, for every great one, there are several mediocre ones. If you’ve been tasked with building or sourcing training for your team, let me save you some grief by sharing nine factors that can kill your effectiveness.
Acquiring knowledge and know-how is critical to any professional – both for knowledge and manual workers. But with it brings some new disadvantages as well. The “curse of knowledge” is recognized as a “cognitive bias” that essentially means it is difficult or impossible to unremember or disregard information you possess. It seems that what you don’t know – as well as what you do know – can both hurt you.
So how can knowledge actually be a curse? Consider a few of the ways.
Picture yourself attending two training sessions. In the first, you sit quietly in your row as the instructor lectures on the benefits, nuances and applications of the topic. In the second session, you sit at a table with a group of peers as a facilitator introduces the topic, elicits several responses about the group’s current challenges, has each individual complete a self-assessment, shares the key points, has everyone interact in small groups and then asks each person to record their personal goals relating the topic to their present work situation. Maybe there is also a resource (like a discussion guide) for participants to use with their teams once they return.
Which session did you learn more from?
Regardless of your function or industry, learning plays a key role in business effectiveness. No one was born knowing how to do any job – and even with all the preparatory training we’ve received over the years (e.g. college), the speed of change demands that we continually learn better ways. (I know I, for one, don’t want to receive the same surgery a “seasoned” surgeon was trained on three decades ago!) So whether you develop training as a profession or you request it as a professional, it’s worth understanding how adults learn best.
I’m constantly surprised at what passes for “leadership training” these days. Then I remember that most leaders work in business operations and their involvement is often extracurricular. I’ve also noted how easily many business operators are impressed with the leadership development support that comes their way. It’s almost as if the simple fact that the organization is investing in them speaks louder than the concepts or structure.
Regardless, if you are going to invest in a leadership event, it’s an opportunity for excellence – whether you are an executive, manager or training expert. Don’t settle for mediocrity. Just having an event doesn’t guarantee success. Incorporate these best practices.
Excellence is a blessing and a curse. It’s always a noble pursuit. But it can be intimidating as well. With so much information and many high profile examples of what excellence looks like, how can we contribute in a significant way?
Regardless of what you aspire to do, excellence is a worthy goal. But it probably won’t be your starting point. So how do you get there? Try this.
Congratulations – you’ve just been selected to participate in a corporate mentoring program. Or maybe you took the initiative and enlisted a mentor yourself. Or perhaps, a seasoned pro has begun to formally or informally take you under his wing. Whatever the case, way to go!
Now comes the tricky part: what should you get mentoring for?
One of the difficult parts of entering a new mentoring partnership – especially for first-time mentees – can be deciding what exactly to invest a mentoring relationship toward. On one hand, it’s great to have a partner committed to your development. On the other hand, it’s hard to know where to start.
Today's guest post comes courtesy of Mark Miller, Vice President of
Organizational Effectiveness at Chick-fil-A and bestselling author. Receive his updates by visiting his website Great Leaders Serve or following him on Twitter.
Success is a lousy teacher. The best leaders know this and are always on guard against complacency. I recently received a question from a leader who has just completed a season of success. She is concerned her team won’t stay motivated. How do you keep your team fully engaged in the wake of success?
This is a very thoughtful question. Most leaders are focused on “What’s next?” as we should be. However, the leader who posed this question has an intuitive sense that a let down could be around the corner. Without her leadership, she may be right.
What if I told you you don’t need to have a solution for every single problem that comes your way in order to be a competent and mature leader? Well that’s exactly what I’m about to propose. Hopefully it’s as refreshing to you as it is to me. And the best part about it is that it can dramatically improve your leadership influence as well. The alternative to responding with advice? Asking great questions.
Where do you send your employees to learn something new? Where do you go yourself?
There a lots of options out there. The best strategy is to take a integrated approach to learning across five broad categories. Here they are.
Have you ever taken a personality assessment? What were your results? Were you an INFP? A “high D and low I?” A fire with a bit of earth mixed in? An eagle or an otter?
If you spend much time on social networks, you’ve probably even seen personality quizzes that blend with pop culture. Which Lord of the Rings character are you? Or Disney character. Or past U.S. president. Personality assessments are definitely trending right now.
Now before you get the idea I’m about to start hating on personality assessments altogether, I should mention first off that I’ve taken several myself and helped administer them in professional settings as well. Some of the assessments I’ve worked with are Myers-Briggs (probably the most popular), DiSC (my favorite), and FIRO Business and I’m familiar with several others. I’ve also worked with strengths assessments and 360 degree assessments.
Clearly, there are many benefits to personality assessments, so let’s start there.
This year has just about come to a close. The Type As among us are probably wrapping up their goals and planning for the new year (if they aren’t finished already). The rest will catch up. Maybe.
I saw a great post from Mark Miller last week on New Year’s resolutions for leaders – and it really challenged my thinking. I’m not sure what your leadership goals are for the new year, but if you haven’t thought about it, I’d suggest picking something from these ideas below.