Leadership Development: Getting the Most from a Class
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Leadership is an apprentice trade. You'll learn most of it on the job.
When you take a class it should have a direct impact on what you do on the job. Anything else, and you have to hope you remember what you learned when it comes time to apply it.
Start by choosing class or program that will have the most impact for you. Consider what you do today and where you need to improve. Consider what you will need to move to the next level.
Investigate. Talk to people who've taken the program. What did they learn? Ask to see detailed course outlines and learning objectives.
Find out who will be teaching the program. The course might be great, but a lousy instructor can bore a hole in the bottom of your ship of learning.
Favor programs that include pre- and post-evaluations of your ability. Favor programs that offer follow-up support. The tough part is getting the learning from classroom to workplace.
Dan McCarthy is a leadership development expert whose work I admire. I asked him for advice on getting the most out of a leadership development training program. Since there's no way I can improve on his thoughts, here they are verbatim.
"Soak it up, do your assignments, your pre-work. Involve your manager. Share the course outline, and set learning goals together. During the program, be an active participant. Show up, both physically and emotionally. Take advantage of the networking opportunities - don't get lost in your iPhone on breaks. Take lots of notes, and create an action plan. After the program, debrief with your manager. Check back over your notes and action plan on a regular basis."
You'll get the most from a program if you follow Dan's advice. Here are a couple of more ideas.
Don't leave the debriefing to chance. Before you leave, make the debriefing appointment with your boss.
Draw up your action plan before you return to work. You'll probably return to an in-box that needs sideboards and an email queue that stretches to the edge of the solar system. Don't let busyness drive out important learning.
Remember this. Marshall Goldsmith and Howard Morgan studied the progress of 88,000 managers who had been to leadership development training. The people who returned from the training, talked about it, and did deliberate work to apply their learning were judged as becoming more effective leaders. The ones who didn't showed no improvement.
Which one will you be?
Boss's Bottom Line
You'll get the most from leadership training if you do the following
- Choose a program that will have direct impact on your development.
- Choose a program that will deliver on its promise.
- Milk the program for maximum value.
- Put what you learn to work right away
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Wally's Working Supervisor's Support Kit is a collection of information and tools to help working supervisors do a better job. It's based on what Wally's learned in over twenty years of supervisory skills training. Click here to check it out.