Leadership is an apprentice trade
Leadership does not happen in your head, it happens on the job. That’s why it’s puzzling that most of our leadership training is “head work.” The idea is that if we understand, we will do. So, how’s that working out for us?
The problem with most bad managers doesn’t have anything to do with what they know. They’ve read the books. They understand the principles. They just do something different most of the time.
The solution isn’t teaching them the latest theory or having them read one more leadership book. The solution is getting them to learn on the job. The solution is apprenticeship.
Leadership development requires learning on the job
Coordinate classroom work with daily work. In effective apprenticeship programs the apprentice learns skills in the classroom and then puts them to work right away.
Make sure young leaders get coaching. Coaching is the best way to provide the feedback on the job that accelerates development.
Expose apprentice leaders to other good leaders. Bring good leaders into the classroom to teach. Give apprentice leaders the opportunity to shadow and learn from some of your best leaders.
Leadership development starts the first day
The weakest example is stronger than the most powerful theory. Give new people bosses who set good examples that they can emulate.
Leadership development is habit development
Pay special attention to developing good habits that will serve well for a lifetime. Help them learn to touch base a lot, solicit feedback, and deal with problems early. Help them learn to reflect on their own and their team’s performance.