Gary Pollice, Professor of Practice at Worchester Polytechnic Institute, recalls when one student noted that, while the class was interesting, it felt more like corporate training than teaching. Pollice realized that this was true. He writes, “[T]raining focuses on the skill; the definitions imply a narrower focus than teaching and possibly a shorter timeframe…” whereas, teaching implies “deeper knowledge and a longer timeframe. We often hear the term “lifelong learning, but I can’t recall ever hearing about lifelong training.” Instead of providing leadership “training,” organizations can benefit by integrating leadership programs that focus on teaching.
The difference between training and a program is not just in the focus and timeframe; it’s in the student. An internal leadership program needs to address these questions:
- What do people want? If someone is there just for the paycheck, that’s fine. But they’re probably not the best candidates for leadership roles. Find out who is there to put their time in and who has the potential and the desire to make a difference.
- What is the individual’s potential or capacity? Narrowing it down further, what do these motivated, potential leaders have to offer? What are they doing now that indicates they can do something more? What is their previous experience and education? What skills do they possess that can be transferred to new situations?
- What does the company need in the future, in terms of leadership? What does the individual need? Are these needs compatible? If there is a gap, is it worth bridging? Companies cannot apply a cookie cutter process to this; they need to look closely at the specific needs of the company and potential leaders.
- Can we provide the resources to develop them? Can we give them access to job assignments that will help? Experience and training will help them work towards leadership roles. What are we willing to invest today to get the best for tomorrow?
As Vince Lombardi said, “Leaders aren’t born; they are made.”
To ensure strong, fluent leadership in the future, you’ll want to start teaching now.
Implementing some of the ideas mentioned here can be challenging. If you would like to discuss them in the context of your own specific business please contact us. We’d be glad to help.