Organizations at every level seek to have the best possible leadership within their ranks. They often are willing to spend extra time, money, and effort to train their employees. Having a reliable internal leadership pipeline full of talented people is a great way to ensure that your company has a strong future. After all, good leaders can positively affect your organization in many ways, such as by increasing productivity, innovation, and reducing employee turnover — all of which translate into increased profits.
How can organizations successfully achieve this seemingly herculean task? A common approach is to achieve buy-in from existing leadership to implement different types of employee training programs and initiatives.
We’ve put together five leadership training ideas that you can implement within your organization.
1) Develop an Organizational Learning Culture
One of the chief tasks of any successful modern organization is to develop an effective and engaging learning culture. To do this means encouraging continuous learning and growth in your employees. The best employees are those who are motivated to learn and continuously grow their knowledge and skills.
Organizations that nurture a learning culture are those that attract the best, brightest, and most innovative talents. They also help to develop more skilled and agile employees.
Five steps to help organizations develop strong learning cultures include:
- Teaching Employees to Learn Beyond the Classroom
- Encouraging Creative Solutions without Concern of Failure
- Welcoming Dissenting Opinions and Feedback
- Rewarding Engaged Employees Who Contribute to the Learning Culture
- Getting Buy-In from Existing Leadership
2) Encourage Existing Leaders to Share Their Knowledge
When leaders treat the organizations they work for as opportunities to share their knowledge, it can help to transform them into environments that cultivate leadership talent. Providing leadership training through mentorship and coaching makes the experience personal to the employees who receive their guidance. It also helps them to feel like they truly matter, both as people and as workers.
Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth Professor of Management and Director of the Leadership Center at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, has spent more than a decade studying world-class leaders to determine what sets them apart.
According to Finkelstein in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review:
“One big surprise was the extent to which these star managers emphasize ongoing, intensive one-on-one tutoring of their direct reports, either in person or virtually, in the course of daily work. Cognitive psychologists, teachers, and educational consultants have long recognized the value of such personalized instruction: It fosters not just competence or compliance but mastery of skills and independence of thought and action.”
This approach stands in stark contrast to the more traditional approach to employee management and development practices. While some managers may try to include occasional lessons into their schedules, few actually make it an integral part of their organizational roles.
3) Use Self-Directed Instructional Methods
Being able to engage in self-directed learning is an essential life skill for everyone. The abundance of web-based technologies that are available today — video, website, online course portals, games, and more — help to foster curiosity, agility, and innovation in continuous learning. They provide an informal learning environment for leadership training outside of a classroom setting
According to another Big Think expert and Intrepid Learning leader Sam Herring, organizations can transform their employee workforce into 21st-century leaders by tapping into self-directed learners’ characteristics of curiosity, commitment, and adaptability.
In a Big Think article, Herring says:
“Self-directed learners are intrinsically motivated. They understand that their passion for learning is fundamentally connected to their ability to differentiate themselves and succeed in the workplace. They know where they need to get smarter to add even more value to their organizations and to advance their careers. They take responsibility for their own learning because they are passionate, inspired and curious.”
4) Employ Experiential Exercises in Your Training
Learning doesn’t have to strictly be theoretical or learning lessons from what others have done. Another great leadership training idea is the using experiential learning exercises to provide employees with an opportunity to learn these insights firsthand. It helps to create the “a-ha” moments where things finally click and are understood in ways that cannot be accomplished simply by reading about a concept. Experiential training also makes it more memorable for participants.
Experiential learning opportunities can include:
- Management-in-training type programs in which employees can shadow existing leaders;
- Placing employees in charge of specific programs and projects that help them to develop their leadership chops; or
- Having employees participate on committees to create solutions to specific problems the organization faces.
An added benefit of these leadership groups is that they provide a resource for your organization regarding mock strategy execution. Your leaders-in-training can provide additional business and learning value by performing a mock run-through of the strategy to identify and address any missing components before it officially launches.
5) Develop and Implement Specialized Training
Another great way to develop leaders is through the use of specialized training programs. Based on the input you receive from performing a needs gap assessment, these focused programs can target specific areas and skill sets that are missing or lacking within your organization.
These programs can break your select group of leaders down into smaller groups, ensuring more personalized learning. Furthermore, it can include:
- Group discussions and exercises focusing on different topics;
- Case studies based on real-world examples from your organization; and
- Games and other methods of learning to increase knowledge of skills.
We hope that these leadership training ideas are helpful and provide you with a great starting direction to lead your employees. If you’d like to learn more about the importance of purpose as a leader, be sure to check out Big Think+ today.