You may have read the title and said to yourself, “Well that seems a bit silly.” And even though you may have access to a pool or perhaps a rare body of water, the ability to practice swimming and hone your swimming skills when you live in the desert will most likely be more challenging than when you live near several bodies of water or swimming pools.
The same is true with leadership development. Sending leaders to a class on how to be build engagement on their teams, for example, will make little impact if the environment they return to after the class is managed by a senior management team that believes in a command-and-control style of leadership. Or asking leaders to work on their time management skills is fruitless if how they spend their time is determined for the most part by someone or something else.
When considering what development opportunities you want to provide for your leaders, also consider whether the environment or culture they are returning to will support or discourage them. Like living in the desert and wanting to become a better swimmer, if the environment practices something different from what your leaders are learning about, it will take a little more effort for you and them to put the newly learned skills and behaviors into practice.
Meeting with your leaders both before and after a development experience is a best practice. It becomes even more important when reality and the ideal do not match. Take for example the leader who needs help with time management. Discussing with them what factors impact their ability to better manage their time and helping them work through areas they can influence can create more success during and after than any time management class they may take. If a leader needs to focus on communicating in a more positive way, yet their peers and other leaders in the organization complain and bad mouth others often, working to help them put into practice what they learned on a consistent basis can support their growth and development and longer-term success.
Acknowledging practice and application of key concepts is important as well. Knowing it will be acknowledged when they do something that may be different from what others are doing is a driver for continued change as well. Practicing new skills and behaviors when the environment around them doesn’t encourage or support it requires more time, practice, support, and determination.
When considering a development opportunity for your leaders, don’t stop at what the topic or content of the development will be. Consider what you can do to support and encourage them to apply what they are learning on an ongoing basis. Make the investment worthwhile for them and the organization by helping to ensure there is room to practice and continuously improve on their skills and behaviors in an environment that will support that process and their progress.
Explore leadership development solutions to learn more about how LAK Group can help your organization improve its ability to attract, develop and retain a diverse talent pipeline and become an employer of choice.