The Problem:

We send ‘our people’ on multiple leadership development programmes and the ‘higher’ up the organisation the more such programmes tend to focus on theoretical content and information. We then expect our people to ‘know what to do with this’ yet all too often few, if any, tangible or practical ‘actions’ result in their personal leadership practice. They ‘know stuff’ but it simply doesn’t seem to meaningfully translate into their day-to-day leadership behaviour or practice.

The Solution:

  • Don’t assume they will translate and incorporate the programme content into their own leadership practice. Leadership author, Max De Pree has said that the ‘first responsibility of the leader is to define reality’. This is the reality…what goes on in the leadership programme all too often stays in the leadership programme or classroom!
  • Within a week of the person returning from the programme, ask to meet with them and let them know you would like a comprehensive overview of the topics discussed during the programme. Stress that they need to revisit their notes and come prepared for your meeting. This isn’t a generic ‘off the top of my head’ kind of review of the leadership content. You might want to do your homework as well by acquainting yourself with the curriculum taught.
  • At your meeting ask the following pointed questions:
    • What for you was the course/learning highlight? Why do you think this stood out for you?
    • In each of the content areas (go through them) what one thing are you going to do or change with regards to what you are currently doing? How will I know that you have done this?
    • What needs to be ‘re-taught’ or passed onto your team from what you have been exposed to or learnt?
  • Give it 6 months and diarize another meeting with the person. At this meeting share with them this quote from behavioural scientist, B. F. Skinner: “Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten”. Ask them ‘what has survived?’ (from the programme). It is your call whether or not you give them advance notice of the question to be asked.

This blog post originally appeared at TomorrowToday Global.

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