Leadership training programs are a great idea for any organization. Having a consistent program to develop your team will pay off with morale improvement, skill sharpening, and new leader identification.
Unfortunately, many people forget key things when they’re developing leadership training programs. Here are 4 things to remember as you’re designing yours.
4 Elements to Remember in Leadership Training Programs
1. Cast a wide net.
Often, organizations identify leadership training program participants based on structure and role. It can be tempting to keep the program somewhat limited, and that can result in a smaller group of potential leaders.
Resist this temptation! You could miss some of your greatest potential leaders. Instead, work to cast a wider net. Consider asking people to nominate their peers, or ask your line managers to identify employees who are beginning to demonstrate leadership. You might need different leadership training programs for the different levels of your organization, but you’ll see significant returns.
2. Allow people to opt in and out.
This might sound like it’s contradicting the previous point, but hear me out. Some leadership training programs can be (or seem) mandatory, and that’s not a best practice.
When you identify someone to participate in your leadership training program, ask them if they’d like to participate. Some people don’t have the desire to develop this skill, and others may have circumstances that prevent them from taking on additional responsibilities. Giving people the option to say no without risking their careers is important.
Similarly, it’s important to allow people to opt out at various points throughout the program. Consider having regular semesters or other breaks, at which time everyone is asked whether they want to move to the next phase. You might also allow people to jump in and out depending on their workload. This helps you avoid people feeling stuck in the program.
3. Teach your team to focus on context.
As you design leadership training programs, it’s easy to focus on specific skills and techniques. You can find books and other training resources to help your team be better at coaching, listening, and planning. But what about context?
Teams work within a context, and if your leaders aren’t aware of that context, any leadership they provide may be misinterpreted. Providing coaching in a healthy context is seen as a helpful contribution. Offering coaching in a culture of disempowerment may be perceived as a harsh judgment. Teach your team to evaluate and respond to context.
One key element of context is operating states – click here to learn more.
4. Document and share best practices for leadership.
Do you have a sales playbook? If so, consider adding a section for your leadership training program. (If not, what are you waiting for?)
When you develop your leadership playbook, solicit best practices from existing leaders as well as people in the leadership training program. Ask people to think of what they wish they’d learned sooner. Include best practices for coaching, mentoring, planning, hiring and interviewing (if applicable).
Review your leadership playbook regularly, and develop a schedule for refreshing it. Each new batch of leaders can make contributions.
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