Leadership development 3 Ways

May 24, 2017 by Wally Bock

Ron Thomas’ post, “Don’t Train Leaders; Develop Them,” starts with the Henry Mintzberg quote that neither leadership nor swimming can be learned by reading about it. Then Thomas says this:

“You don’t train leaders you develop them – a subtle yet important distinction lost on many. And developing them entails a long-term process with a variety of components, from coaching to reflective questions to understanding just who am I? Don’t train leaders, coach them, mentor them, . . . and develop them. This process should start from first promotions of responsibility. The longer we wait, the longer we pick up bad habits.”

The emphasis should be on learning, which includes understanding, trial, and feedback. In most companies that learning happens in in three different contexts.

Leadership development in groups

Some learning happens best in groups. Formal training programs where participants learn from each other as well as from the instructor fit here. Leaders can also learn the craft in peer support groups.

Leadership development one-on-one

Coaching and mentoring go in this context. In many cases an aspiring leader’s boss will provide feedback and guidance. In some situations, though, a third party, perhaps a hired coach is needed. Aspiring leaders can also learn from discussions with other leaders and their team members.

Leadership development when you’re alone

John Dewey said that “We don’t learn from experience. We learn by reflecting on experience.” Reflecting on experience happens when the aspiring leader is alone. Reading is a solitary activity. So are some forms of mental rehearsal.

Bottom Line

Leaders don’t just develop one way. Your leadership development program will be richer and more effective if you help aspiring and current leaders learn in groups, in pairs, and alone.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Leadership Development

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