Leadership Skills Are the Prerequisite for Training ROI—And The Result

When you clear away the all the clutter and get down to bare essentials, there’s really only one core reason organizations invest in training and development for their people: to solve problems.

From high turnover to compliance issues, safety and reporting violations, labor conflicts, production shortfalls, failure to hit quarterly KPIs—those problems are the reasons organizations start looking for a training and development solution.

But wait. There’s a caveat.

Back in 2012, Harvard Business Review published a fascinating postmortem analysis of a huge enterprise-wide training initiative that had initially failed.

The authors performed a comprehensive analysis of why leadership training fails and what to do about it. In short, the findings were dire for companies that take a band-aid approach to leadership training: they found that simply applying a layer of training over a dysfunctional system typically does not lead to long-term organizational change.

Typically, according to the authors, when training occurs outside of the everyday realities of workplace roles, responsibilities, and relationships, the learning from training cannot survive a return to a dysfunctional organizational system. That’s because the training doesn’t address problems within the system, and the system, conversely, doesn’t change to support what training is trying to teach. And so, training doesn’t deliver the results it was designed to deliver. And the “training fails.”

It’s a vicious cycle.

Some of the key findings of the HBR study:

“…organizations need ‘fertile soil’ in place before the ‘seeds’ of training interventions can grow…. When the researchers looked at a corporate training program aimed at improving problem solving and communication between managers and subordinates, they discovered that success varied… Improvements were greater in units that had already developed a ‘psychologically safe’ climate in which subordinates felt free to speak up…. Part of creating a favorable context for learning is making sure that every area of the business provides fertile ground. Soil conditions will inevitably vary within an organization, because each region, function, and operating group has its own needs and challenges.”

What sort of leadership training might create such fertile soil? leadership training psychology

Five Ways L.E.T. Is an Organization Changer

The differences between Leader Effectiveness Training and other leadership training programs are deeply embedded within the program’s philosophical underpinnings, origins, design, delivery, and follow-up.

At its foundation, L.E.T. is training that is designed to improve how humans manage their relationships. It’s the missing piece in training R.O.I.

The principles upon which L.E.T. were built are complex, and yet in practice, the skills can be used to build open, mutually trusting, constructive communication and relationships with just about anybody who has reached the age of reason.

And unlike some other programs that are here-and-gone, the foundational skills and problem-solving method it teaches serve both of the functions described by the authors of the HBR article: Preparing the soil and planting the seeds of more productive, positive, problem-free working relationships.

  • Based in Science: L.E.T. is grounded in the most reliable, respected foundational and respected research on human behavioral and behavioral science. Its skills and methods are time-tested and have been validated again and again through the decades. There is no “emerging theory” or “cutting-edge” (read: untested) lurking behind the material; everything in the program has been taught, refined, practiced, and corroborated in thousands of workplaces over a span of decades.
  • Built on Practice. The point of training is not to fill whiteboards, PowerPoints presentations, and workbooks full of concepts, pages, whiteboards, flipcharts, and collaborative exercises in and of themselves; it’s to build practical skills. L.E.T. focuses intently on building skills that require practice, and throughout the classroom portion of the training, those skills receive intensive attention. Learners walk through the skills, practice them in real conversations, receive constructive feedback, and build them a step at a time. Mastery takes time and application; L.E.T. dives deep into a realistic set of skills that can be acquired and developed within the timeframe allotted for the training, and new graduate communications encourage regular continuing practice.
  • Comprehensive applicability. Unlike many workplace training programs, L.E.T. isn’t a set of skills that remains quarantined in the workplace. In fact, that’s one of its most unique and fundamental strengths. The same Active Listening skills that can be used to de-escalate a problem between two feuding coworkers can be used to deflate tensions between siblings at home. The same no-lose conflict resolution method can be employed to choose a family vacation destination when there are strong, conflicting opinions about National Parks versus Disneyland. The Behavior Window is a useful tool to help figure out who actually owns an ongoing conflict with a neighbor (and how to proceed from there). And so on.
  • Practical. Unlike a number of other programs and courses, L.E.T. does not require leaders to become experts in “reading” other people. It does not require them to memorize their direct reports’ personality profiles and remember to interact with them in ways that they prefer. It does not ask them to become armchair psychologists, amateur sociologists, weekday anthropologists, or otherwise operate outside of their field of expertise. It simply develops their expertise in a narrow, highly effective set of communication and problem-solving skills based on empathy and autonomy.
  • High Visibility and Accountability. Perhaps most importantly of all, L.E.T. doesn’t require subordinates’ knowledge or participation to “make it work.” L.E.T. graduates are accountable for their own behaviors, and by the end of their training, they have internalized this understanding. At the same time, other leaders in the same organization who have also gone through L.E.T. will be able to recognize when a peer has forgotten to use the skills (perhaps in a meeting of peers). Such a visibile situation a natural opportunity for reinforcement by graduates themselves to practice I-Message skills as a way to reinforce both the training and “healthy soil.” In this way, L.E.T. creates its own visibility and becomes self-reinforcing, continuing to pay off long after the training itself has ended, nurturing those seeds and creating a more hospitable, healthy, trusting, environment for subsequent learning endeavors.

Are you or your organization interested in learning more about how L.E.T. can improve R.O.I. on your training and development investment?


Share this:

Learn more about L.E.T.