When I first started to work as a trainer many years ago, the focus of delivering training was on people from “production”. At that time, I was working in a bank call centre and the requirement that often came from top management was – train them in a short time and make them productive as soon as possible. 14 years later, I have the feeling we are still there: focus on production/operation and not so much on communication, emotions, and people. This article is based exclusively on my working experience in various companies I have worked in, so it’s really subjective, but useful, at least because it underlines the real truth: leaders need training, a lot!
Within each company I have worked for, I have struggled to create leadership programs and opportunities for leaders to develop and grow. Each company had this gap. The general approach was that leaders mainly know what they have to do (this is the reason why they got into that position), so there was no need to invest in them. The reality was different: leaders knew what to do technically, most of them were there because they knew the “process” quite well, but they had no or little knowledge of how to do it with their team.
The knowledge/behavioural gaps I still encounter after so many years are:
a) communication with team members
b) offering constructive feedback
c) motivating the team
d) dealing with conflicts or conflictual team members
e) workload/delegating tasks
So, why do leaders need continuous training? Because:
1. They struggle with “change challenge”. Most work environments are dynamic, and change comes as part of the job description. This may be difficult to handle and sometimes overwhelming for leaders.
2. They are the reason the team members stay, not the salary increases.
3. They have to learn how to work with their emotions and the emotions of the others.
4. They simply don’t know how to do certain things.
5. They are a model and a point of reference for the team members.
6. They have to learn how and when to prioritize “reports” over “people”.
7. They are facing management difficulties.
Giving trust and space to the team members can be equal to the Pygmalion effect, but this is a hard lesson to learn.
Dear companies, please invest in creating and maintaining exceptional leaders first and then spend your resources on the “people from production”, because do not forget, a leader that has no openness to develop himself continuously will have no openness to invest in developing his team members.