When I present myself in social situations, I sometimes lie and say I work with literally anything else than "I am a leadership trainer - I help leaders lead themselves and others".
Because when I say that, I count the seconds until the other person starts explaining how THEIR boss really could use some leadership training because THEY are SO bad at it.
Sometimes I just want to deadpan that person and then ask: And when you said this to your boss, how did they react? And what specific ways did you offer up to help them grow and develop as leaders, so your own work environment improves?
I never ask them that. My wife would tell me to stop being a besserwisser and that my "tone was patronizing" or something like that. And she would of course be right.
But so would I.
Leadership is not about one person telling others what to do, and then they get to judge that persons skills based on if they felt motivated or not.
Leadership is a dance, where many people are involved.
We approach it fundamentally wrong when we only involve the "Leaders" or "Managers" in leadership development. Sure - they need to get tools and skills to lead others. But then what? Then we hope they get back to their teams and magically turn sceptics into supporters? Sure - that could work, and it sometimes does.
But quite often we end up with skilled and trained leaders, struggling to turn ideas into action. They come back from the conferences, stoked like crazy - only to be met by sighs and comments like: "Cool, you had fun on your leadership training? We have a list och chaos and confusion here to deal with - so please save your fancy feedback tool for when things have settled down, ok?".
This is why designing a leadership training today must focus on how we reach these others:
- Easy tools and models, so the leader can explain them to the others in the company.
- Action-based, so that there is a clear focus on how the leader can help/support/motivate the others to turn the tools and models into actually changed behaviour.
- Scalable, so leaders can make the others in their turn train the others around the others.
(Wow - that last one got complicated real fast, didn't it?)
But what if we flipped the coin on this completely?
What if we said that leadership training is for the others too?
The faster we can cascade skills and knowledge of all these things to the others - feedback, coaching, prioritizing, teamprocesses, teamfunctions, changes, strategies, reflection - the faster the entire organisation can grow and develop.
This is why we need to train entire organisations in a non-invasive way. The answer is NOT to send everyone to conference facilities - but rather to have a low-key remote training constantly developing and increasing the talent and potential without taking time from the daily work. Week after week, month after month, in line and in tune with regular leadership training efforts.
Because our collective success is when we realize that the others are all of us. Leadership and self-leadership training for the many, for the others. For us. This is how we will succeed in the future, by raising skills for all of us - not only those few who go away to conference facilities.