Why is Leader Effectiveness Training (L.E.T.) offered over a three-day course? Why not shorter? With a skill as complex as leadership training, you need more than a four hour course to be introduced to concepts, practice them, make mistakes, get feedback from a live trainer, and then practice some more. Practicing leadership skills is not just about doing everything right, but also making mistakes and receiving the proper guidance from a professional trainer. Likewise, the goal of L.E.T. is not just to throw facts and figures at the participants, but to practice the concepts real-time and to leave the workshop with real experience that they can apply to their work environment.
My friends can usually find me at my favorite coffee shop on Saturday or Sunday afternoons going through books, articles, whitepapers, case studies, and bits of research on marketing, leadership and emotional intelligence. I want to learn what people are up to – why they behave the way they do, think what they think, believe what they believe, buy what they buy, invest (or waste) time interacting on social networking sites, and so much more. Inevitably, the ideas start flowing; I jot them down and, later, share them with my clients and write about them in my blog.
I am a member of Second Wind and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, serve on the University Outreach Committee of the Business Marketing Association, and am a graduate of and soon to be a trainer of the Leader Effectiveness Training program through Gordon Training International.
In most leadership training, apologizing is not encouraged. Often, people think of apologizing as a sign of weakness or, worse, indecisiveness or a lack of confidence or courage. WikiHow says this about apologizing, “An apology is an expression of remorse or guilt over having said or done something that is acknowledged to be hurtful or damaging, and a request for forgiveness. However, it can be difficult to swallow our pride and say “I’m sorry.” If you have a difficult time making amends for mistakes or repairing the effects of angry words, here’s how to keep your dignity while being humble, and invite forgiveness with grace. ” There are a lot of “feeling words” (remorse, hurt, damage, forgiveness, pride, anger, dignity, humility) in that definition for most leadership training. I would add to this list “guilt” and “remorse.” While it may seem like a side issue compared to most of the compelling, urgent issues that need to be addressed in leadership training workshops, saying, “I’m sorry” at appropriate times (and meaning it), can be a very powerful way of building trust. And, building trust, as we all know, is of the utmost importance in building teams. So how does a leader know when an apology is appropriate and how is the best way to go about it? And how does the leadership training facilitator weave this into the content of the class?
My second job out of college was, to put it mildly, an action-adventure-comedy. Don’t believe me? You try raising money for political campaigns by going door-to-door.
The three-line ad in the San Diego Reader had caught my eye: “Earn $350/wk. raising money for progressive causes! 888-RUK-RAZY.” Who could resist such a simple, idealistic, rainbows-and-unicorns kind of opportunity? I was tired of the retail job I’d taken out of desperation after graduating in the middle of a recession. So I called, they said “Come on down,” I said “Yay!”
The rest is 18 months of job history.
There was no interview process, per se. Young, bright-eyed hopefuls like me showed up every day. We got a one-hour orientation, and then we were assigned an active canvasser to shadow for the evening. It was a total “throw ‘em in the deep end and see if they can swim” approach to recruitment.
With a busy schedule, taking an online leadership training workshop seems like the best choice. What we forget is that some subjects, such as leadership effectiveness, really do need to be taught properly in a live, classroom environment. If leadership training is designed to make you a better communicator, a better listener and ultimately a better leader, then face-to-face human interaction is necessary. When learning the skills that are involved with effective communication, having a trainer help guide you and give you instant feedback is crucial.
Often during leadership training workshops, I will conduct a “dollar auction.” I hold up a brand new dollar bill and tell participants that I will “sell” the dollar bill to the highest bidder regardless of the bid. If the high bid is 1¢, then that bidder gets the dollar bill for 1¢. The rules are: the high bidder must actually pay the amount bid and the second highest bidder must also pay the amount bid although he or she will not receive the nice crisp dollar bill. The bidding predictably begins with one and two cent bids. Eventually someone will bid 50 cents and someone else will have to bid 51 cents. At that point, the group realizes that I am going to make a profit on the exercise. The bidding continues, of course, because a dollar bill for 51 cents or 75 cents is still a pretty good bargain even if the sly facilitator is going to make a killing. Inevitably, someone bids 99¢ forcing the other bidder (All but two bidders will have stopped bidding by now.) to bid one dollar for the dollar bill. So, the person with the 99¢ bid faces the dilemma of either losing 99¢ or bidding $1.01 for the dollar. Well, losing 1¢ is better than losing 99¢. The person who had bid one dollar now has a similar conundrum. On and on the bidding goes! I often have to stop the bidding at 3 or 4 dollars (I do have some sympathy for the poor chumps). This devious little exercise actually demonstrates several organizational phenomena. It stimulates a discussion of when to cut your losses on a losing project. But, it also helps illustrate how leaders can do a poor job of assessing risk. Consulting companies, law firms, and insurance companies have made a fortune advising corporations how to manage their risks. While few would argue that you shouldn’t remain vigilant, you have to wonder whether the billions spent on avoiding harm might not be better spent on more profitable activities like developing new products, improving the training and development of employees, conducting more research and the like. As our economy slowly (ever so slowly) recovers, the last component to improve has been employment. Companies have tons of cash but few are willing to be the ones to start hiring. Those that are hiring are more likely to look to temporary help than risk employing full-timers.
Whether it is your career or the careers of your team members, it is an important part of every leader’s job to facilitate career development. Whether it is advancing within the current organization, other parts of the same company, or moving on to other companies or some entrepreneurial venture, there are certain steps that are important. It used to be that you had a mentor and he or she took responsibility for alerting you to opportunities and preparing you to take advantage of them. Although that still happens sometimes, the mantra now is, “you are responsible for your own career.” That may mean that your mentor has a more facilitative, supportive, coach-y role but is still very much a part of the process. Or, it may mean, “We are cutting back on all of our employee development programs so you are on your own. Tough luck!” Either way, it is wise to take charge of your own career. Waiting for things to happen is not going to get you there.
The way people talk about leadership, you’d think someone would have to be a wizard to lead. Maybe Gandalf or Merlin could clean up this mess. Maybe some mystical creature from another dimension will come to our rescue. Businesses spend millions to hire high-profile CEOs to rescue their faltering companies. Corporations on the verge of hostile take-overs look to white knights to step in and defend them against the dark side.
• Leaders are born. The idea that there are innate characteristics that make one a leader and that only certain people have these traits is a widely held belief. Certainly, there are attributes such as cognitive capacity and physical beauty that work to people’s advantage, but there are simply too many exceptions of individuals without such traits becoming leaders for that idea to be credible.
Often, when I am asked to facilitate a leadership training workshop and I tell my client that it will take three days, I will be asked, “Can you do it in two days?” Or, if it is a two-day workshop, they will want it in one day, etc., etc. I, of course, am very respectful and try to explain my reasons for the length of the class. Being at my most diplomatic, I explain how the workshop delivered as designed will be more likely to meet the client’s needs and so forth. In my mind, however, the dialogue is a little different. My private, unspoken conversation goes like this. “One day? Why so long? Let’s just do the 30-minute version. If all you want to do is say you offered leadership training, why go to all of the trouble of having people actually learn the skills. Even better, let’s do the Twitter version: 140 characters! If your goal is mediocrity, this should do nicely.” So, anyway, here goes (the 140 character version): “Leaders must have a vision. They must listen, play fair, tell the truth, be accountable for their decisions, and give unambiguous feedback.” (See! Only 139 characters – WITH SPACES). What else could you possibly need? It’s a breakthrough!
Anyone that works anywhere wants to know that their professional input is valued at the workplace, right? Offering leadership training workshops such at L.E.T. allows leaders to express that they are listening to the people that work in that organization. A work environment where personal development, input, and creativity are encouraged are a result of a good leadership training program.
SOLANA BEACH, CA – May 2, 2011 – The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, seen as Royal Military Constabulary (commonly referred to as KMar), has staff trainers who offer Leader Effectiveness Training, L.E.T., the leadership training program from Gordon Training International (GTI).
KMar is one of the four Services of the armed forces of The Netherlands that is involved in border protection, military police and guard duties—which includes providing security for Queen Beatrix of Holland.
Gordon Training International’s Representative, Nederlandse Effectiviteits Trainingen (NET), trained and certified the L.E.T. Trainers at KMar.
It is a police organization with a military status, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defense, but mostly working for the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. The RNLM performs the following duties:
By Linda Adams, CEO of Gordon Training International
A team member comes to work late.
One of your direct reports looks increasingly worried and tense.
These and dozens of other problems crop up every day both at work and at home. That’s inevitable. What matters is how they get handled which is something effective leadership training can teach you.
A good place to start is figuring out who the problem belongs to. That’s because different skills are needed to solve the problem depending on whose it is, or who “owns” it. Leaders need not jump in and assume responsibility for solving all the problems. As anyone who has done that knows, it becomes not only a terrible burden, but an impossible task.
Test yourself by reading the following examples and then deciding who owns the problem—who has the unmet need. Is it the leader or the other person? (Stay tuned as the answers will appear in a subsequent article):