Reflections on Leadership Training

Reflections on Leadership Training

My plan for the next few weeks, or perhaps months, on this blog is to discuss some of my ideas about leadership training.  This is one of my ‘pet’ subjects, talking about leadership teaching in our professional schools, and leadership training in our organizations.  And, since this whole ‘leadership training’ thing is a concept that seems universally in vogue these days, this is a frequent subject of conversation for me wherever I find myself in the world.

To me, the type of leadership training that I see in organizations, and even have been asked to do in some companies, focuses on the wrong things.  So, I would like to explain where I believe we go wrong, and then explain what I think effective leadership training should focus on.

This is a somewhat vast subject, so I am not sure how long this series of entries will last!

When I do corporate training for middle managers, or work with entrepreneurs who are seeking to develop their leadership skills, I am often asked questions of this type: “What are the three (or one or two or seven, the number is unimportant) most critical things I should learn to do in order to improve as a leader?”

While this question is a good and useful one, to me it is not at all the most important matter people should ask me about, or focus on themselves.

Indeed, when it comes to leadership development, my experience tells me we are asking the wrong questions.

In my career observing and coaching leaders, I have come to a simple conclusion: Human beings follow others not because of what they know or do, but for who they are.  So, as I see it, effective leadership training should focus more on who I am than on what I have to do.  A better question would be “Who should I strive to become in order to be a more effective leader?”

Indeed, leadership is more about becoming than about doing.  So, my question, for myself and others, is: How can we structure leadership training programs that focus on developing the ‘who I am’ factor?


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