You’re a busy executive. You’d love to accelerate your company’s growth and do everything you can to ensure that your leadership team development reaches or surpasses its business goals. You can’t afford not to do that.

So a leadership training course might make sense… or not.  The last thing you want to do is to pull people away from their jobs to waste valuable time on a bunch of theory that won’t help move the needle with the bottom line.

And you know what? You’re smart to be wary. The worst-case scenario is that your people will emerge from a mind-numbing seminar grumbling about how much real work they could’ve done if they weren’t stuck for hours or days sitting through a course and learning nothing of value. If the training is not solving a business problem, why bother?

How do you avoid wasting your time and money? The key lies in avoiding courses that feature these deadly sins:

1.       The glorified lecture disguised as a “workshop.”

You want your team to emerge from any workshop armed with new tools that will drive growth and productivity. Don’t let anyone convince you that a one-way lecture with a token amount of Q&A is going to build real muscle when it comes to driving down the values and behaviors that will translate into dollars. If the content can be learned so passively, consider having people read or listen to the material instead of forcing them to sit through a 50-mile death march of PowerPoint slides that are basically read by the “expert.”

In our experience of working with executives like you, people learn best with a blended, interactive approach.  If you can apply a new tool to an existing problem while working with a partner, hash out best practices in a small group, and get some feedback from an experienced facilitator who gets your business, your energy will stay high… and you’re way more likely to use what you learn.

2.       A failure to connect the dots between new ideas and real-time problems.

Too often, people leave workshops having little or no idea as to how the content connects to the real-time, real-world challenges that they face at work every day. Presenters usually know their subject matter pretty well, but a differentiator is what they can do “in the moment” to help people connect it to their own world. That’s what trips up many inexperienced facilitators, who want to stick to a script rather than risk connecting it to your very real problems.

The best leadership training courses force people to work on their real-time challenges right in the workshop. We believe in challenging leaders in workshops—getting you to think and act about what you can do now to drive your business forward. If we’re going to teach your team how to make powerful presentations, for instance, we’re going to make sure that they’re working on real ones—nothing hypothetical. When they leave, participants feel like they got a significant jump on something they needed to do anyway… and they have some new tools in their toolbox to do so faster and better in the future.

3.      Not grasping the difference between “learning” and “training.”

This may seem like a matter of semantics. To us, “training” implies something that is done to people—telling them how to think and act. That has its place: It makes sense to train someone to operate a forklift or to perform CPR, for example.  There you’re learning a series of mechanical steps that must be followed to be successful.

But when we’re trying to help people become leaders, we have to understand that we’re dealing with really smart people who don’t need or want to be told what to do. Where we can help most is in asking questions and engaging people in activities that help them learn how to think like a CEO. When we do that, understanding emerges from within the learner—but only if there are meaningful, relevant activities and skillful facilitation.  We aim to unlock learning for people rather than fooling ourselves into thinking we can force new approaches down their throats.  The most exciting parts of our workshops are those “eureka moments” when leaders have those flashes of insight about how our tools and methods will drive great economic value for their businesses.

So perhaps the best “leadership training course” is not something we would even want to call a leadership training course! 

Regardless of what you call your program, remember to ask tough questions to nail down the specifics about whether the provider can provide interactivity, real-time relevance, and proven experience working with leaders.

While leadership skills are complex, we’ve had great success helping leaders turn their overwhelming real-time business challenges into manageable micro-goals. Imagine the impact on your business when a workshop shows you how to knock down those barriers to growth.

Check out some of our leadership training courses such as Speak Like a CEO to develop your leadership skills. 

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