by Patrick Bosworth

A leadership profile designates the attributes a leader within your company should have. It becomes not only the checklist used during the hiring or promotion process, but is also used to evaluate current leaders and to predict talented up-and-coming future leaders within the company.

Making the Right Decision When Hiring a Leader

When you are looking to hire a customer service representative, you know you are looking for someone who is friendly, communicates effectively, can resolve conflicts, manages stress well, and has a talent for mitigating confrontation.

When searching for the perfect window glazier or a machinist, you’re on the hunt for someone with knowledge and expertise in the industry, a track record for upholding safety protocols, the ability to work well within a team, and with proven consistent output.

Yet when it comes to hiring or promoting a leader, studies show we’re not only less discerning about the traits we’re looking for, but we also get our choice wrong almost 9 out of 10 times.

How Wrong Are We, Exactly?

Very wrong, according to several recent studies. In a recent report by Gallup (the market research guys), they revealed that only 1 in 10 people have the five essential, god-given talents needed to be a top-performing leader.

1 in 10 doesn’t sound like that big of a stretch, right? If you have a pool of 50 applicants then there are at least 5 who will be exceptional leaders. And you are probably pretty confident that you have the capacity to sniff them out.

However, this same study showed that 87% of the time, organizations pick incorrectly. That means 87% of the time, the wrong candidate is hired or promoted to fill a leadership role.

Where Did We Go Wrong?

Blame it on our old-fashioned idea that if you work hard, you’ll eventually ascend the company ladder.

No, really.

Multiple studies have found that the majority of leaders come from two major sources:

  1. They were the highest-performing individuals in their department, so when a leadership role emerged, they were promoted into the position as a reward for their excellent work.
  2. They have seniority at the company, having been around longer than any other employee in the department. When a leadership position opens up, their tenure grants them the promotion.

There may be some discussion around “whether so-and-so is up to the role,” but in both of these situations, neither the candidacy nor the ultimate selection are based on that person’s actual capacity to excel in a leadership role.

There are lots of reasons why this misstep occurs. For one, it’s risky and costly to go without a leader for any extended period of time. When you also take into account that a hire from outside the company would also need significant time to gain their bearings within the organization, the months of diminished performance quickly add up.

Second, promotion into a leadership role has long been the expected “reward” for good performance within a company. After all, salary is typically based on job title; not on performance or contribution.

All of these reasons add up to one unfortunate truth: most of the leaders in today’s organizations don’t have the talent to lead with the skills that drive high levels of performance. Even more unfortunate is the fact that in all of this hullabaloo, most organizations aren’t even quite sure what a good leader looks like.

Over 50% Of Organizations Can’t Articulate What A Good Leader Looks Like

In a survey to hundreds of organizations across multiple industries, HR and those in hiring roles admitted that, for the most part, they didn’t know exactly what to look for in a leader outside of the fact that the person had industry knowledge and a track-record for individual performance within the company.

  • 52% of organizations surveyed cannot clearly describe the qualities they look for in a leader.
  • 95% of organizations that do have list of attributes they look for are lacking one or more of the 5 most essential qualities of a top-performing leader.

You Can Fix The Leadership Dilemma Within Your Organization:

Step 1: Design A “Leadership Profile”

A LEADERSHIP PROFILE designates the attributes a leader within your company should have. It becomes not only the checklist used during the hiring or promotion process, but is also used to evaluate current leaders and to predict talented up-and-coming future leaders within the company.

It’s important to put a combination of soft and hard skills in your Leadership Profile. You want someone with industry knowledge and a track-record for success in the necessary department(s) or role. But even more importantly, you want your leaders to have the leadership talent necessary to drive a high-performance team.

There are 5 qualities (dubbed the Top 5 Leadership Attributes) that most unfailingly attribute to success:

  • People Skills: Communication isn’t just about using the right words; it’s about skillfully modifying the way you speak with different people to help engineer the desired result.
  • Inspiring Trust & Confidence: Be a leader that people can believe in. You can do this by consistently delivering on your “brand promises” as a leader.
  • Delegating Effectively: Great leaders use delegation as a tool to improve the skills of each team member with the goal of elevating the whole team.
  • Performance Coaching: Forget “constructive criticism;” great leaders give skillful and productive feedback on a consistent basis to improve team performance and confidence.
  • Influencing: A great leader has the skills to overcome resistance from others and rally support around initiatives and ideas.

Include these 5 leadership traits, as well as some of the other skills and knowledge you feel, is necessary for a high-performing leader in your industry–such as strategic mindset, business acumen, technical ability, institutional alignment, etc–and you’re on the right track.

What is Performance Coaching and Why is it the Best Replacement for Performance Reviews?

Performance coaching is the ongoing process of communication, feedback, direction, and support. Instead of ratings and forms, teams have autonomy and decision-making authority to achieve a shared goal.

In this model, a manager acts as a coach instead of a director. They serve as a sounding board, a supportive critic, and a source of facts and ideas derived from broader experience. Managers go from being a voice of judgment to being someone who listens, asks, facilitates, integrates, and provides support.

“We’re finding that the new performance-development system is promoting trust between managers and employees — the foundation of high-performing teams. The insights we are giving and receiving are very different compared to the scrubbed and anonymous 360-degree reviews of the past. This is uncomfortable at first: It is difficult to truly self-reflect and spot the gifts embedded in the increased feedback. As managers, we need to be more vulnerable and show our teams we are growing to give them the license to do the same.”

GE’s Real-Time Performance Development by Leonardo Baldassarre and Brian Finken

Step 2: Communicate Your Leadership Profile

Within an organization, a Leadership Profile should be defined and communicated well. When a leadership hire or promotion takes place, no one should wonder how that person was chosen.

Make sure all key members who have a role in pertinent hiring and promoting decisions have access to a clear copy of your organization’s leadership profile.

Additionally, make sure all current leaders have knowledge of the Leadership Profile so they know by which standards their performance will be compared.

Step 3: Assess And Close The Gaps

What is the state of your current leaders, and what tools and resources do you have in place (or can you put in place) to ensure they have mastery of all of the skills within your Leadership Profile?

98% of leaders want continued support, services, and opportunities to grow.

How can you implement Performance Coaching in your organization? Read more about our virtual, on-demand program →

Chances are your leaders are eager and willing to take part in regular leadership development programs that will help them achieve higher levels of leadership performance. And this doesn’t just help the leader, it has a significant impact on your company performance as well. By executing a plan for strategic leadership development, you’re enabling your leaders (and organization) to elevate their performance in ways that can significantly impact the company.

Organizations with high-talent leaders have the capacity to realize:

  • 48% increase in profitability
  • 22% increase in productivity
  • 17% increase in client engagement
  • 19% decrease in turnover

compared to lower-talent leadership companies.

 

The Difference Between a Leader who Coaches & one who Directs

Many management development approaches fail to distinguish between the two or suggest that there are only minor differences between the two leadership styles. However, the distinction may be greater than expected at first glance and can make a measurable difference not only in the culture of a company, but also its overall success, capacity for growth and innovation, efficiency, and bottom line.

What’s the Difference?

Directing is an “I dictate, you deliver” relationship. It is a “ruler” leadership style that relies on convincing employees and team members to follow instructions precisely or exactly. A leader with a directing leadership style tends to view employees as workhorses to carry out the leader’s strategies and ideas, which typically results in burnt-out leaders, stagnant strategies, and disgruntled employees.

Conversely, a leader who coaches his or her employees does so “in the trenches,” helping to guide team members to the best solutions by exploring and developing ideas. A leader who coaches will readily admit that their own approach may not be the most effective solution and consciously works to grow and maximize the skills and talents of team members. Coaching provides support, knowledge, and resources while creating an environment where the leader works alongside team members instead of lording over them.

Finding Success

A true leader knows that only by maximizing the potential of each of his or her team members will the company find its greatest success. So how does a great leader provide an environment in which the team achieves long-term success by maximizing potential?

Here are five tips to help managers coach more and direct less:

 

1.  Help Team Members Achieve Their Goals

A good leader takes an interest in team members’ long-term goals, and helps them to achieve those goals.

No leader wants to lead a team fueled by a revolving door of employees that turn over every few months. A good, solid, and strong team comes from dependability and growth.

If you are the type of leader who helps create a path of growth for your employees, you are ensuring long-term employee retention rates.

By facilitating growth, you are also ensuring that the focus of development in each employee is focused on ways to grow within the company (instead of how to grow outside the company). This means you’re ultimately creating an environment in which team members have intense buy-in since they feel the success of the company will help propel the success of themselves (instead of always looking for a better opportunity elsewhere).

2.  Delegate STRATEGICALLY

Delegating shouldn’t be used as a tool to get work off your plate; it should be used as a tool to help develop and explore the skills of each of your team members. Remember that your ultimate goal is not to be a “firefighting team” that can accomplish only the most glaring emergencies set before them; your goal is to create a superstar teams that can take the challenges in front of them and help the company grow and excel through creativity and resources that might not have otherwise been explored.

Gradually begin assigning others tasks that you’d otherwise perform yourself. Keep in mind the following when deciding which tasks to delegate:

  • Maximize employee’s strengths. Give them the opportunity to demonstrate unique strengths and improve areas of weakness.
  • Develop team members’ knowledge and skills. Help your employees exercise new knowledge and skills that will help groom them for future assignments and positions. This offers you a pipeline of talented employees to assist in attaining future goals.
  • Increase motivation and productivity by producing an environment employees find challenging, interesting, and meaningful.
  • Encourage commitment and buy-in. By involving employees in decisions and actions that affect them, you’re creating an environment of ownership and commitment for successful implementation.

Master delegation, performance coaching, and influencing in our virtual Accelerated Management Program.

3.  Praise in Public, Coach in Private.

Contrary to popular belief that salary fuels all personal employment decisions, one of the biggest reasons an employee leaves a company is because he or she feels underappreciated by their supervisor or manager.

When someone on your team goes the extra mile, make sure to mention it in a way that everyone can hear or read. Not only will it serve as a great example for the rest of your team, it will also strengthen your bond of trust with your employees and inspire them to continue giving it their all.

When it comes time to discuss areas that need improvement with an employee, however, no one likes to be publicly exposed, particularly if the reason they’re struggling is personal in nature. These discussions should be held in private, and should be phrased in a way that coaches for improvement or solving a problem together instead of placing blame or humiliating.

4. Be Specific

One of the biggest problems with feedback (positive or negative) is that it tends to be vague.

Make sure that when you provide praise to your employees you are being specific about the action they took as well as the positive impact it had on the company or team. This helps your employees feel like you are taking notice of their actions which helps create an environment of trust and accountability, and also helps to reinforce specific good behaviors that you would like to see replicated in the workplace.

The same is true when you’re required to provide coaching or constructive feedback.

Staying objective and stating what specifically went wrong during a given event as well as stating the impact of that action helps to create a conversation that can more objectively solve a problem or avoid a repeat event in the future.

How can you implement Performance Coaching in your organization? Read more about our virtual, on-demand program →

5. Be Open-minded

Some leaders have a habit of feeling that their way is the only “right way.” Coaching a team of superstars means understanding that the more strengths you can find in each team member, the stronger your team will be.

Instead of jumping in and managing the way a team member is handling a task, coach them through the exploration of their own solution. You may be surprised with what they came up with – and it may even be more effective than what you would have otherwise come up with on your own.


Closing the Gap

Even if the coaching leadership style doesn’t come naturally to you, most leaders have the capacity to master these skills with proper training and coaching that will incite real, measurable change with long-term quantitative business impact.

Whether you’re a first-time or experienced manager, our Accelerated Management Program can make a huge impact that gives you the tools to lead with greater skills and confidence, significantly increase the efficiency of your team, and create measurable positive business results.

The video below is a quick overview of how our virtual Accelerated Management Program delivers high-impact business training and coaching with 3x better results than traditional training programs.

by Patrick Bosworth

Why Communication is Important

Organizations understanding that each team member has a different communication pattern and that each of these communication patterns is “good” and is primed for success.

You can’t conduct business without words. That’s not a miraculous discovery–we’ve known communication is important to business for centuries. We know that when we communicate better within an organization we have improved conflict resolution, better interpersonal relationships, and more engagement with clients or customers. We know that it leads to more effective delegation and happier employees, and that it increases trust and confidence between employees and leaders.

But does that manifest into measurable business impact? More and more studies are showing that effective communication and communication-related skills contribute to some of an organization’s most important KPIs, including profitability, productivity, and client engagement.

If your team doesn’t consider communication a priority, you may be missing out on more than just “feel goods.”

After decades of experience interacting with thousands of teams in hundreds of industries, consulting with some of the best leadership development minds in the industry, pouring over thousands of pages of research and studies related to organizational psychology and leadership, and years of corporate experience in a multitude of industries, we’ve experienced first-hand the impact that team communication training can have as a transformational tool within an organization.

In fact, effective communication and its application in skills such as motivating employees to take action, driving outcomes, and building relationships with trust and transparency, can contribute to as much as a 22% increase in productivity, a 48% increase in profitability, and a 19% decrease in employee turnover.

What’s the problem?

What’s slowing down your progress or causing contention in your workplace?

  • Do your leaders feel like they get let down when they delegate important assignments?
  • Do your employees prefer working individually instead of in teams?
  • Do you sometimes feel shut down by higher-ups, or like they’d rather run a dictatorship than listen to contributing ideas?
  • Are there people in your company that you or others avoid because they are “strong” personalities or “too chatty?”
  • Do you get frustrated when employee reports or leadership direction is too anecdotal/qualitative as opposed to numbers-driven/quantitative (or vice versa)?

The problem likely isn’t a lack of effective delegation or a need for team building workshops or stricter report guidelines.

Symptoms like these are typically due to a lack of understanding team members’ personal communication patterns, and using that information to communication more consciously and effectively within the organization.

What are personal communication patterns and why do they matter?

Most of us have taken a personality test at some point in our lives. The results of these tests usually give us a “personality type” or other identifier (think Myers & Briggs).

A communication assessment is no different. The assessment is usually a collection of questions, usually taking no more than 5-10 minutes to complete, that tells you what type of communicator you are. It typically takes into consideration two important communication factors: your assertiveness (high vs. low) and responsiveness (high vs. low).

Knowing your communication pattern can give you personal insight into your interactions. For example, perhaps your pattern will reveal that you are “Amiable,” and therefore like to know how certain actions will benefit your team as a whole or how your work is contributing to the organization. This information might help you be more aware that your enjoyment of a project increases when you ask questions about how it will affect the team/organization. Or perhaps you realize you’re “Expressive” and feel frustrated or put-off when meetings or one-on-ones get straight to business instead of allowing for a little small-talk and personalization. This would help you communicate your needs more effectively to leaders in your organization.

Would you like to learn more about our Award Winning Team Communication Program?

Learn more about Connecting With People    →

While it’s important to know how we communicate, it’s even more important–especially in business–to be able to identify how others communicate. This powerful information drives understanding, expectations, and trust. Even more importantly, it puts all team members in a position (with the right support) to use the information on a daily basis to complete projects more efficiently, resolve challenges more effectively, sell or market more powerfully, utilize each other’s skills more actively, and ultimately drive an increase in efficacy, productivity, and profitability.

Leadership development and corporate research organizations everywhere regularly analyze the traits of effective organizations, cultivating an understanding for what makes teams and leaders great. While there is some variety in which traits/skills, exactly, are the most important to organizational success, one analysis is clear: almost every trait related to high-performing organizations corresponds with effective communication between team members.

How do team communication skills help achieve higher profitability (up to 48%) and higher productivity (up to 22%)?

The short answer is that when people understand each other and communicate better, they perform better. There is less guesswork and interpretation, fewer hurt feelings or misunderstandings, and better informed interactions.

The longer answer can vary between company to company. For instance, a SAAS company may have tension between analytical programmers and expressive salespeople that could be mitigated if expressives understood that the analytical communicators need a little time to consider information/problems before discussing resolutions. This allows them to adjust their expectations accordingly. Similarly, analytical programmers would recognize that processing time doesn’t come naturally to high-assertive, high-responsive expressive and would communicate their need for time.

There are some benefits of greater communication skills that affect every company, regardless of industry:

More effective delegation

One of the greatest assets to a companies is their leaders’ ability to delegate. This is important not only because it frees up leaders to do higher level strategy and projects; it also helps develop team members into higher performing individuals with skills that continue to advance and develop into higher performing teams.

When leaders are aware of each of their team members’ communication patterns, the leader is better able to draw out the talents these team members possess. It helps the leader understand which qualities may not yet have had an opportunity to surface, and which skills may have been hidden because a team member is “low assertive.”

Higher employee engagement

Better communication within a team means there is less conflict, improved understanding, and greater trust and confidence. In an environment like that, it’s no wonder employees begin to feel more engaged in the team’s performance. Employees also feel they have more buy-in within the team and are more eager to elevate the team to success.

Customer engagement

When a team takes part in a group communication training program, they apply those communication skills not only within the team, but also with interactions between clients or customers. Whether your team includes customer service or sales, this means customers feel more understood and like their needs are better being better met. It also means reduced conflict, stronger connections, and increased confidence in your team members.

Tactical influencing

In every organization, it’s important for ideas to be explored and progressed to make way for innovation and growth. However, as anyone who has experienced the “too many cooks in the kitchen” stage of innovation can attest, it sometimes takes skills of influencing and compromise to achieve progress. When teams understand each others’ communication patterns, this knowledge becomes a decoding tool or magic key empowering more effective means for influence and change management.

Whatever your communication pattern is, it’s the “best” one.

Organizations understanding that each team member has a different communication pattern and that each of these communication patterns is a “good” one are primed for success. This information helps high-performing teams find greater profitability, productivity, and employee engagement than those organizations that try to standardize communication or interactions.

Every communication pattern comes with unique strengths that, when understood and utilized, can help your team become more well-rounded and achieve higher performance and success.

by Patrick Bosworth

Improving Leadership Development

Whether your 2022 business goals include increasing your revenue or sales and making your team more efficient, or delegating more responsibilities and opening up more time to grow your company, chances are your organization will be better equipped to achieve those goals with one crucial improvement: designing a more effective leadership strategy.

Companies that prioritize developing their leaders can see up to a 48% increase in profitability, 22% increase in productivity, and 17% increase in client engagement, and it’s no mystery why. Better leaders are more engaged and more effective and lead teams of more engaged and more effective employees.

But what exactly makes a better leader and how can you empower your leaders to perform at those high levels of performance?

Leaders Are Made—Not Born—And That Means You Have A Huge Advantage

Take the following into consideration:

  1. According to a recent study by Gallup, only 10% of people have the natural talent to lead at a high level of performance.
  1. 87% of the time the people in leadership positions don’t have these high levels of natural leadership talent.
  1. Research conducted by our leadership experts through decades of experience shows that high-performing leaders have 5 key leadership traits in common—all of which can be learned.
  1. The first 90 days of a manager or senior leader’s tenure define how he or she will perform as a leader; however even mid-career every leader, regardless of experience level, can improve his or her leadership capabilities with ongoing leadership training and coaching.
  1. 98% of leaders say they wish they had more opportunities to participate in leadership development programs.
  1. When a leadership team transforms to attain these high levels of leadership skills, companies can see improvements such as over 40% increase in revenue, over 20% increase in efficiency, and more.

What Do All These Facts And Figures Mean?

The bottom line is if you don’t currently have a strategy for developing your leaders, then you have an outstanding opportunity to achieve measurable results in key areas of company performance.

4 Steps To A Successful Leadership Development Strategy

 

Step 1: Determine The Leadership Qualities Your Company Needs

The first step of harnessing the power of your leaders to achieve company goals is to get a better idea of what leadership qualities your leaders need to have to help you achieve your company goals.

The best way to define these traits is to consider your long-term business goals. You probably already know which steps need to be taken to achieve these goals. What skills do your leaders need to have or be stronger in to help you acheve each step.

This may include traits and skills such as more effective delegation to free up more time for your leaders to think more strategically, having more confidence influencing others to lead and manage change, or integrating more performance coaching into their interactions with employees to build stronger and more effective teams.

Step 2: Assess Your Current Strategy

After you determine the qualities and skills your leaders need to help you achieve your goals, it’s time for a bit of assessment and reflection. Are you currently empowering your leaders to develop the skills and tools your company needs to achieve its highest goals? If not, why not?

Ask yourself questions such as the following:

  1. Do you currently have a list of traits and skills you use to select and assess the effectiveness of your leaders?
  2. Do you currently offer your leaders regular training and coaching to reinforce the leadership skills most important to your organization?
  3. Do your leaders have mentors or coaches that help them improve their leadership skills on a regular basis?

Take time to assess your current leadership development strategy, then identify the gaps where leadership improvement will help you achieve your goals.

Step 3: Close The Gaps

How do you get from where you are to where you want to go? An effective leadership development strategy focuses on three areas within your leadership pipeline:

  • Ongoing training to expand your current leadership team’s skills to meet the needs within your ideal Leadership Profile.
  • Developing a leadership culture that empowers you to identify high-talent individuals within your organization whom you can intentionally grow for future leadership positions.
  • Support new leaders through their transition to apply and reinforce the skills, traits, and habits most important to your organization’s success.

Step 4: Design & Implement Your Strategy

Once you’ve defined your leadership profile and the goals of your leadership development strategy, it’s time to design a system that supports these goals.

  • Flipped learning – a learning acceleration strategy that uses self-learning prior to expert-led training and conversation.
  • Individualized learning – curriculum that emphasizes personalizing tools and techniques to each participant to improve retention and application.
  • Expanded timeline – teaching leadership skills over a 1-2 month period with support to ensure application and practice between modules.
  • Virtual learning – maximize budget while bringing together a group of leaders regardless of location, time zone, or availability while integrating into a leader’s schedule instead of detracting from existing work.
  • Professional coaching – perhaps the most significant feature you can look for in a leadership development program. Personalizes curriculum to the individual, directs actual application, troubleshoots learning challenges, and serves as an expert co-pilot to maximize learning.

How can you implement Performance Coaching in your organization? Read more about our virtual, on-demand program →

How Are You Currently Supporting And Improving Your Leaders? 

If you’re like most organizations (93% of organizations, to be exact), then you probably feel like there are significant gaps in your leadership development strategy. Taking time to identify those gaps and resolve them with regular training and coaching not only significantly improves leadership satisfaction and engagement; it can also create major lasting change in important KPIs such as revenue, margins, and efficiency.

by Dave Boizelle

Leadership & Employee Development

The secret of leader-led development and how to make it work for your organization

For a lot of companies, training and development has become that one week out of the year where employees disappear for a day or two to learn a few new skills and come back pumped up and ready to take on the world–only to see that gusto evaporate within a month or so.

There are a lot of reasons traditional training programs end with this “evaporation” of skills and mindsets so quickly after training is complete, but one of the most well-known (and most often ignored) reasons is lack of involvement from leaders and executives.

You have probably heard the spiel before about how involvement from higher-ups in the employee development process leads to better alignment between individual goals and company goals and helps shape employee performance to accelerate company progress.

You probably also know that this practice develops long-term company support to reinforce lasting change and measurable on-the-job application. Not to mention it creating cohesiveness and a community of progress within the company.

We’ll spare you the pep talk

Most organizations know the importance of syncing higher-ups with employee development but most overestimate the amount of effort that is required to reap the benefits.

In all actuality, there are a number of easy ways you can include leaders and executives in employee development without an excessive amount of time or effort.

Doesn’t that take a lot of work and planning?

Many leaders automatically resist becoming part of the employee development process because they already feel stretched for time. Being a part of employee development feels like a massive undertaking. Are there supposed to be reports and graphs involved? Do they need research and examples to back up their claims? Shouldn’t they receive an employee performance analysis or some metrics first?

The answer is no.

While a formal review may have a time and place in your organization, the best and most effective feedback can come from smaller, more informal interactions.

Involve your leaders from day one

One of the most effective ways to involve your leaders in employee development is to ensure they have a role in the process from day one.

Ask your executives and leaders to be part of the process for designing learning goals. The best development programs don’t work in a vacuum; they’re integrated with company goals and values. Make sure the leaders in your company understand how aligning learning and development goals with the skills and mindsets can fast track your company to more strategic success. Ask them to help be a part of the alignment process.

If your employee training and development program is already in place, use this as an opportunity to refresh it. Your executives and leaders shouldn’t need to review the whole process, but a 30-minute conversation about overall goals and values can be an invaluable tool for both the executive and the learning process.

Make the executive’s role in coaching less formal

If regular coaching—understandably—feels like too big of a commitment, ask your leaders and executives to be a part of the development process on the ground level. There are huge benefits to on-the-spot coaching (as long as the leader is in tune with the overall development goals of the company).

On-the-spot coaching means your leaders and executives tune in to daily interactions and find small moments each day to use as teaching opportunities.

One executive I talked to who has grown multiple multi-million dollar companies from the ground up and is currently the chief executive officer of one of the fastest growing technology companies of the Western United States says that his modus operandi is to be a “walking manager,” meaning he cruises the floor multiple times a day to engage in conversations with all levels of employees. He also holds informal weekly “stand-up meetings,” where he goes to each team—such as his call center or engineering floor—for five minutes each week to ask members of the team to stand and discuss wins, losses, and areas of improvement.

He keeps the process friendly and quick to develop a positive rapport with the employees and to keep himself from dreading the interactions. However, these meetings without fail exhibit opportunities to coach individuals by discussing tools and strategies, realigning goals, or sharing stories or quips that illustrate lesson.

Informal executive involvement in employee development allows leaders to connect and coach on a one-on-one or team basis in a low pressure, convenient environment. It gives them an opportunity to share stories or personal experiences with employees which—especially in the case of millennials—significantly increases interest and engagement.

Keep it simple and short

Sometimes it’s good to formalize the leader or executive’s involvement in the employee development process, but in these cases, keep it short. At Leadership Choice, we like to involve leaders in the review of learning goals pre-training and in reviewing long-term development post-training to ensure alignment with company values and goals.

This also gives the leader or executive an opportunity to understand an individual or team’s specific goals and use those as benchmarks during informal on-the-spot training.

Still not convinced?

Do you think it will take a little more encouragement for your leaders and executives to take part in the employee development process? Make sure they understand the benefits of having these interactions with their “in the trenches” employees.

By asking questions and listening to employees on the front lines, leaders and executives are bound to learn heaps of information about their company that they wouldn’t otherwise be privy to. They will suddenly have direct insight into employee attitudes, customer issues, technology shortcomings, ideas for more effective processes, talents that might not yet been showcased, or brainstorms about new products or services.

You hear about it all the time because it’s important

Leader-led training is making a regular presence in conversations about effective training and employee development and doesn’t have to be overwhelming to start implementing.

by Dave Boizelle

Training High-Potential Leaders

Individuals learn leadership lessons in unique and personal ways, often at unpredictable times.

I was facilitating a high potential leadership team program when one of the participants interrupted me and blurted out, “I get it! I finally get it!” The class came to a halt. I turned to him and said, “What is it you get?”

The participant, Ethan, started to explain that he now understood the implications of a communication principle we had covered months ago. He said, “I just realized that I am the problem in the group I lead. I never understood why my teammates could not process issues and make decisions as quickly as me. It drove me nuts, so I would take charge and start telling them what to do instead of asking what they thought we should do. They are nice people to work with, but so frustrating at times.”

The Enemy Within

Ethan had come face to face with his strongest opposing force—himself. It was an illuminating moment for him (and the class) as he realized his actions were getting in the way of being an effective leader.

I could see that he was processing years of needless frustration, so I seized the opportunity to create a coaching moment:

“Ethan, what have you discovered about yourself?”

He responded profoundly, “I realize now that I have been overplaying a strength that I thought would bring me faster results. I have a Dominant communication pattern. It’s who I am. I am really time- and task-oriented. I am not as interested in feelings and relationships at work.

“I also realize that most of my team members have an Amiable communication pattern. They are very different from me in how they solve problems and make decisions—I prefer to make decisions quickly with less data, but my team is not as comfortable taking that risk. They often fuss over things and don’t seem to have any time boundaries. When I see this happen, I can’t stop myself from stepping in and taking over. I feel like I have to keep the ball moving forward.”

“I realize now that I disempower the team with those actions. The sad thing is that most of our decisions are not urgent and certainly not life threatening.”

I urged him on: “What modifications can you make in that situation?”

His response was what I was hoping for. “I need to relax and have more patience. Instead of dominating a situation I feel isn’t getting resolved quickly enough, I need to lower my assertiveness. I need to get more comfortable coaching my team through a decision-making process using questions—I think this might help the team process faster and learn how to make quicker decisions. That would also force me to listen to their ideas and concerns. As hard as this is for me to do, I think it would empower the team to be more decisive and maybe more comfortable telling me the way things really are.”

The class surprised me with a round of applause for Ethan. Then I realized that they had just witnessed what they thought was an improbable transformation of a colleague. It was a very inspiring and satisfying moment for me and the group.

From Insights to Action

I was thrilled to see Ethan’s progress, but knew that these breakthroughs are most effective when they are supported by an action plan. I asked Ethan if he could take on an assignment to teach us further.

His assignment was to act on his revelation—to engage his team in ways that he had described—then to return to the next workshop and report the outcome.

Ethan did so and proved that “do it my way” leaders can modify their communication pattern and value the new perspectives that come as a result.

He reported that his more Amiable team turned out to be great problem solvers once he stopped overplaying his strength. His lower-assertive coaching approach helped his team open up. They needed more time and space to process—time and space he is now more willing to give them once he saw how effectively it empowered them to deliver results.

I asked Ethan one final question. “Was making small, temporary adjustments to the way you communicate to your team a waste of your time? Did it slow down progress, or slow down the ‘ball’ you were so anxious to keep rolling?”

Perhaps this was his greatest revelation. “It defies logic, but in many instances taking a bit more time to adapt to the communication patterns of my team actually saved me time and I tend to get better outcomes when I do.”

The Burden of Dominants

The reason I share this story is because Dominant bosses need to be self-aware with how they interact with others.

Until they recognize the impact they have on others through their communication, they’re failing to fulfill the potential of their leadership, and are missing out on maximizing important knowledge and talents from their team members.

Connecting With People

Great leaders have empathy. Empathy enables the leader to understand, relate to, and “connect” with a greater variety of people. Relating to others begins with seeing different sides of yourself and others.

The “connecting” process includes:

  • Self-awareness of how your communication strengths can become your weaknesses when overplayed at the wrong time.
  • Understanding the Communication Patterns of others.
  • Temporarily modifying your Communication Pattern to meet the needs of others.

Armed with this self-awareness, understanding, and the ability to make temporary modifications, the Dominant boss will become a more versatile and impactful leader with greater ability to truly lead.

Funny thing–when Dominant bosses figures this out, they typically get more of what they want from others: faster results and better outcomes!

About the Author


Dave Boizelle

Chief Learning Officer
Dave has unique capabilities in training facilitation and developmental coaching across mid-sized and global organizations. Previously, Dave was the chief learning officer with RSM McGladdrey. He also has extensive experience as a director of human resources and recruiting at Arthur Anderson, Inc. Dave has an M.S. in Instructional Technology from Utah State University.

Individuals learn leadership lessons in the most individual ways and often at unpredictable times.

I was facilitating a high-potential leadership team program when one of the participants interrupted me and blurted out, “I get it! I finally get it!” The class came to a halt. I turned to him and said, “What is it you get?”

The participant, Chris, started to explain that he now understood the implications of a communication principle we had covered months ago. He said, “I just realized that I am the problem in the group I lead. I never understood why my teammates could not process issues and make decisions as quickly as me. It drove me nuts, so I would take charge and start telling them what to do instead of asking what they thought we should do. They are nice people to work with, but so frustrating at times.”

The Enemy Within

Chris had come face to face with his strongest opposing force—himself. It was an illuminating moment for him (and the class) as he realized his actions were getting in the way of being an effective leader.

I could see that he was processing years of needless frustration, so I seized the opportunity to create a coaching moment:

“Chris, what have you discovered about yourself?”

He responded profoundly, “I realize now that I have been overplaying a strength that I thought would bring me faster results. I have a Dominant communication pattern. It’s who I am. I am really time- and task-oriented. I am not as interested in feelings and relationships at work.

“I also realize that most of my team members have an Amiable communication pattern. They are very different from me in how they solve problems and make decisions—I prefer to make decisions quickly with less data, but my team is not as comfortable taking that risk. They often fuss over things and don’t seem to have any time boundaries. When I see this happen, I can’t stop myself from stepping in and taking over. I feel like I have to keep the ball moving forward.”

“I realize now that I disempower the team with those actions. The sad thing is that most of our decisions are not urgent and certainly not life threatening.”

I urged him on: “What modifications can you make in that situation?”

His response was what I was hoping for. “I need to relax and have more patience. Instead of dominating a situation I feel isn’t getting resolved quickly enough, I need to lower my assertiveness. I need to get more comfortable coaching my team through a decision-making process using questions—I think this might help the team process faster and learn how to make quicker decisions. That would also force me to listen to their ideas and concerns. As hard as this is for me to do, I think it would empower team to be more decisive and maybe more comfortable telling me the way things really are.”

The class surprised me with a round of applause for Chris. Then I realized that they had just witnessed what they thought was an improbable transformation of a colleague. It was a very inspiring and satisfying moment for me and the group.

From Insights to Action

I was thrilled to see Chris’ progress but knew that these breakthroughs are most effective when they are supported by an action plan. I asked Chris if he could take on an assignment to teach us further.

His assignment was to act on his revelation—to engage his team in ways that he had described—then to return to the next workshop and report the outcome.

Chris did so and proved that “do it my way” leaders can modify their communication patterns and value the new perspectives that come as a result.

He reported that his more Amiable team turned out to be great problem solvers once he stopped overplaying his strength. His lower-assertive coaching approach helped his team open up. They needed more time and space to process—time and space he is now more willing to give them once he saw how effectively it empowered them to deliver results.

I asked Chris one final question. “Was making small, temporary adjustments to the way you communicate to your team a waste of your time? Did it slow down progress, or slow down the ‘ball’ you were so anxious to keep rolling?”

Perhaps this was his greatest revelation. “It defies logic, but in many instances taking a bit more time to adapt to the communication patterns of my team actually saved me time and I tend to get better outcomes when I do.”

The Burden of Dominants

The reason I share this story is because Dominant bosses need to be self-aware with how they interact with others.

Until they recognize the impact they have on others through their communication, they’re failing to fulfill the potential of their leadership, and are missing out on maximizing important knowledge and talents from their team members.

Connecting With People

Great leaders have empathy. Empathy enables the leader to understand, relate to, and “connect” with a greater variety of people. Relating to others begins with seeing different sides of yourself and others.

They “connecting” process includes:

  • Self-awareness of how your communication strengths can become your weaknesses when overplayed at the wrong time.
  • Understanding the Communication Patterns of others.
  • Temporarily modifying your Communication Pattern to meet the needs of others.

Armed with this self-awareness, understanding, and the ability to make temporary modifications, the Dominant boss will become a more versatile and impactful leader with greater ability to truly lead.

Funny thing–when Dominant bosses figures this out, they typically get more of what they want from others: faster results and better outcomes!


LEARN MORE ABOUT DOMINANT COMMUNICATION PATTERNS:

Connecting Better with a Highly Assertive Leader

Do you think you may be a dominant communicator (or do you know someone who is)? This article by Leadership Choice President, Brett Walker discusses how to connect better with highly-assertive leaders.


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Effective Business Training & Development 

Business training and development is an integral part of maximizing team talents, streamlining processes, increasing innovation and growth, and creating a positive and successful organizational environment.

However, most employee training and development programs fall significantly short of their goals, yielding only 20-30% information retention and skill application.

Since the U.S. spends $142 billion annually on training with a 53.8 avg. hours of training per employee per year, this results in nearly $113 Billion in training dollars wasted in the U.S. every year, and almost 43 hours per employee per year wasted in the average organization.*

Must we accept training as a “necessary evil” with weak and disappointing results? Or are there aspects of training we can pinpoint using educational psychology and neuroscience to maximize results?

In the following slides, we introduce the 8 MISTAKES OF INEFFECTIVE EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENT AND TRAINING.

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*Training Industry Report 2015 – $142 B spent annually on training; 53.8 avg. hours of training per employee per year.
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Download the Effective Business Training & Development Checklist by clicking below:

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About the Authors

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Dave Boizelle

Chief Learning Officer
Dave has unique capabilities in training facilitation and developmental coaching across mid-sized and global organizations. Previously, Dave was the chief learning officer with RSM McGladdrey. He also has extensive experience as a director of human resources and recruiting at Arthur Anderson, Inc. Dave has an M.S. in Instructional Technology from Utah State University.

 

Pat Bosworth

Founder and CEO
Patrick effectively coaches leaders at all levels and across a number of industries with a pragmatic, consultative approach. Previously, he was vice president with Right Management and held other senior OD and development positions in manufacturing and the professional services Industries. He holds an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Lamar University.
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Stay current on your favorite topics

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by Patrick Bosworth

Communication in the workplace is one of the most influential aspects of business success or failure. A well-communicating team can move mountains together, while a poorly-communicating team can unintentionally (or intentionally) sabotage success.

Effective Communication in the Workplace

Improving communication in your teams is one of the most important changes your organization can take. Effective communication will not only produce a more positive work environment, it will also increase productivity, employee engagement, and profitability.

3 Steps for Improving Team Communication in the Workplace:

How can you improve team communication in the workplace? It starts with self-awareness. Each team member must first take a good look at how he or she communicates. Then, team members should take the time to understand each others communication patterns. With this information, team members can then learn to make simple and temporary communication modification that can skyrocket

1. Become self-aware of personal communication patterns.

Each team member must first develop self-awareness about how they communicate with others. This includes understanding how they think they communicate as well as how others perceive how they communicate. Most people’s communication patterns change under stress, so it’s also important for team members to understand how their personal communication patterns change under pressure.

This awareness is an important first step in improving team communication since it empowers each person with knowledge of their natural tendencies as well as their strengths and weaknesses. This personalization will be important when they’re making temporary modifications to communicate more effectively with a person or group of people.

2. Understand each team members’ communication patterns.

Effective communication isn’t a one-size-fits-all mentality. Every person communicates differently, which means a team can be most effective when they understand the communication patterns of their fellow team members.

With this information, team members can develop techniques to temporarily change their communication techniques based on the team member(s) with whom they’re communicating. For instance, perhaps Jenny has an analytical communication pattern and needs time to process information and make decisions; Mark is expressive and tends to work fast-paced, preferring knowing the big picture. Understanding these patterns gives you insights into how to communicate most effectively, get more results, and reduce conflict.

3. Develop an agreed-upon communication dynamic

Finally, the team must have a defined, predictable, easy-to-implement, and intuitive system for communicating. This dynamic should take consideration of the speaker and listener’s primary communication patterns (as opposed to treating everyone like the same type of communicator). It should also include both the speaker and listener making temporary communication modifications based on their personal communication pattern and the pattern of the person with whom they’re speaking.

Any communication program or philosophy is best implemented with regular reminders. It can often be helpful to incorporate a short communication discussion into weekly or monthly meetings – troubleshooting any communication problems, discussing observations about communication patterns, or taking time to praise those who have been effectively implementing effective communication.

 

Effective Team Communication is the Foundation of Business Success

Not only does effective communication affect company culture and interpersonal relationships; it also results in:

  • Better client relationships
  • Minimized conflict
  • Increased productivity
  • Higher employee engagement
  • Reduced turnover

How We Help: Connecting With People Team Communication Program

Connecting With People is a premier, award-winning team communication program. It transforms communication from just “talking” to being an actual high-impact tool for business success. The high-impact communication habits developed under Connecting With People will help teams get more done faster while creating a more engaged and positive team environment.

What Does Connecting With People Look Like?

Connecting With People is an employee communication program that includes a preliminary communication assessment, a workshop (available in-classroom or virtually), and follow-on exercises to maximize retention and application.

1. iConnect Personal Communication Assessment. Each participant will first take a communication assessment. This assessment is integral to the Connecting With People team communication method. It provides a detailed personal analysis of communication patterns, giving important self-awareness from which to build new communication skills.

From a series of questions, the assessment determines different aspects of an individual’s personal communication pattern, including

  • How the person sees themselves
  • How others see them
  • How the person communicates under pressure

2. Connecting With People Workshop. Available in a half-day classroom workshop, a live-virtual interactive online classroom, or as an on-demand virtual course, the Connecting With People workshop is the heart and soul of this program.

Connecting With People goes in depth to analyze personal communication patterns and the communication patterns of others. Participants are given recognition techniques to quickly assess the patterns of others, then learn to make strategic adjustments to communicate more effectively in any situation.

3. After-Training Retention Exercises and eCoaching. After training, participants receive weekly reminder videos as well as access to an eCoaching dashboard that reinforce skills and troubleshoot challenges. This integral part of the Connecting With People results in 3X higher application and long-term retention than traditional employee communication programs.

4. Optional: Team Connect™. This program is specific to your team and includes a facilitator to help the group examine each team member’s personal communication patterns, discuss current communication barriers, and implement weekly or bi-weekly Team Connect Huddles for a productive communication platform. Learn more about Team Connect here.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Communication in the workplace is one of the most influential aspects of business success or failure. A well-communicating team can move mountains together, while a poorly-communicating team can unintentionally (or intentionally) sabotage success.

How can you improve team communication in your organization? Read more about our team communication training program →

About the Author

Pat Bosworth

Founder and CEO
Patrick effectively coaches leaders at all levels and across a number of industries with a pragmatic, consultative approach. Previously, he was vice president with Right Management and held other senior OD and development positions in manufacturing and the professional services Industries. He holds an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Lamar University.

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Developing an Effective Employee Training Program

Studies by the University of Phoenix and ATD (now TD) revealed that only 20-30% of skills and behaviors learned during training are retained applied. That means that on average, less than $3 of every $10 spent on training translates into business impact.

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In the book 212°, The Extra Effort, authors Sam Parker and Mac Anderson use a natural law to teach a fundamental principle: At 211° water is very hot, at 212° water boils, and when water boils, energy is released in the form of steam. Their point was that just one degree of difference generates an exponential force powerful enough to make electricity or power a machine. It is this natural law that reinforces how a small thing or an extra effort can produce exponential impact.

As a leadership and management development professional I am regularly reminded of this principle—there is no silver bullet or quick fix to accomplishing high-impact leadership development outcomes. Additional action and effort must be taken both before and after the learning event to get the results we expect.

How Important is that “Extra Degree” of Effort?

Studies by the University of Phoenix and the Association for Talent Development revealed that only 20-30% of the skills and behaviors learned during training are retained and transferred to the work environment. That means that of the $60-80 billion spent annually in the U.S, only about $17.5 Billion dollars translates into business impact.

No wonder many organizations are reluctant to invest in employee training and development.

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Key Insight: Pre-Training and Post-Training Matter (Much) More than you Think

In their study of training efficacy, University of Phoenix and ATD sought to better understand learning in a professional environment. Here’s what they found:

  • 25% of training retention and application is determined by what happens before the training takes place
  • 50% of retention and application is determined by what happens after training
  • And only 25% of effectiveness is an actual result of the training event itself
    • Yet, 85% of training dollars are spent on the event

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How to Apply this Insight in Training Events

Organizations can achieve better results by doing two things:

  1. Spending training dollars in ways that achieve better outcomes
  2. Establishing an organizational discipline to attend to pre-event activities and post-training follow-up

Pre-Event – Light the Fire

The purpose of a pre-event discipline is to help the learner and organization start with the right mindset before beginning the learning event.

This does not mean simply providing a training calendar, a brief course description and agenda, and sign-up instructions, then calling it good.

An effective pre-event facilitates understanding the context of the training and why it is important.

Consider these pre-event questions:

  • What’s in it for the learner by attending the training?
  • What behavioral expectations does the organization have of the learner?
  • What pre-work do they need to complete and why?
  • How will this training help the learner do their job more effectively?
  • What will the learner be expected to do with their new knowledge and skills?

Establishing the content and the context helps participants take responsibility for their part in the training investment, as well as providing defined accountability for the expected outcome.

The pre-event discipline also extends to the direct manager:

  • What mindset do they need to have to support the training of their direct report?
  • What messaging does the manager need to provide the learner before the training begins?
  • How will they support and coach the learner in applying the newly developed skills or behaviors?

By doing this, the manager lowers the atmospheric pressure decreasing resistance to application and accelerating the boiling point.

Training Event – Boil the Water

One key that can significantly improve the impact of the training and promote long-term application and retention is to end each training session with time for reflection, takeaways, and an action plan:

  • What two or three new things did each participant learn?
  • What aspects of the training will improve his or her effectiveness?
  • Most importantly, what two or three actions will they write down, apply, and practice?

Post-Event Follow-Up – Keep the Water Boiling & Channel the Steam

When training is viewed as a process as opposed to an event, there is a more defined pathway to follow up, reinforce learning, and “channel the steam.”

What follow-up discipline do you use in your organization? What post-event expectations are in place? In what way is the direct manager involved in the follow-up with their learner?

Consider some follow-up techniques and tactics:

  • Participant summarizes key takeaways and discusses them with their direct manager
  • Direct manager engages participants in a discussion about how they plan to apply their new knowledge and skills.
  • Goals and action plans are developed.
  • Organization engages a learning coach to work one-on-one with participants to implement action plans over time.
  • Training organization seeks out and shares training application success stories with the other participants.
  • Direct manager provides on-the-spot performance coaching as the learner applies new knowledge and skills.

Not Sure Your Organization will go for it?

Do an experiment.

  1. Apply the pre- and follow-up discipline to a small group of learners.
  2. Measure the results.
  3. Track post-training event goal achievement.
  4. Get input from direct managers on observations of performance differences before and after training.
  5. Assess whether learners are still applying skills and behaviors at 3 and 6 months after the training.
  6. Consider expanding the experiment to replicate the results.

Share success stories with key thought leaders, decision-makers, and those who influence them.  Lead-out and persuade them how “one degree” of additional effort “boiled the water,” “channeled the steam,” and produced long-term business impact missing from traditional training efforts.

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Done With Just Reading About It — Ready for Action?

Consider the breakthrough approach Leadership Choice has delivered to hundreds of team leaders to equip them with management essentials and beyond. Good management skills can be learned, acquired, and mastered. From there, regardless of where you started, you will end up joining the ranks of the highly effective leaders.

Learn More Now →

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About the Author

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Dave Boizelle

Chief Learning Officer
Dave has unique capabilities in training facilitation and developmental coaching across mid-sized and global organizations. Previously, Dave was the chief learning officer with RSM McGladdrey. He also has extensive experience as a director of human resources and recruiting at Arthur Anderson, Inc. Dave has an M.S. in Instructional Technology from Utah State University.
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Stay current on your favorite topics

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Spotting Fakes: 3 Impostors, 3 Tips, and 1 Rad 80’s Hairstyle

Business efficiency is all about maximizing team performance while minimizing business costs. With that goal in mind, it’s no wonder so many companies are making the switch to virtual training for leadership development. But things aren’t always what they seem in virtual training. Here’s what to look for.

Choose the Right Virtual Leadership Development Company

Maximizing team performance while minimizing business costs. With that goal in mind, it’s no wonder so many companies are making the switch to virtual training for leadership development. Not to mention, the 2020 pandemic has forced many companies to move to a virtual training/education model with little to no preparation. Even post-pandemic, companies have already gotten a taste of the cost-effectiveness of it and want to continue utilizing it.

Making this switch not only makes leaders more effective within their organizations (the result of any good leadership development program). But more importantly, virtual training means there are no travel costs and no lost productivity from excessive time away from work. It also means teams spread over different states can now collaborate in training without moving from their office chairs.

Even though virtual training is becoming increasingly popular, not all virtual learning programs are created equally.

Can you spot the fakes? What to Look Out for in Virtual Leadership Training

More and more leadership development companies have jumped onto the virtual training bandwagon, but not all of them have gotten it right.

As the buzz over virtual learning has increased in the L&D and HR industries, leadership training and coaching businesses have responded in a few different ways:

THE TRENDSETTERS

Some providers have been desperate to prove that their company is the most technologically advanced and innovative of all, so they launch half-baked programs just so they can say their program is “virtual.” These virtual leadership training programs include some “patched-together” videos and downloadable worksheets, then called themselves “ahead of the curve.”

 

THE OPPORTUNISTS

Some management training and coaching companies saw the potential in virtual training as a way to scale their client base and product while minimizing actual effort on their end. This is because they (wrongly) believed that virtual management training meant you could cut out the human element—trainers, experts, and coaches. You can recognize these folks by their assembly-line training and no human-to-human elements outside of initial setup and technical support.

THE FOLLOWERS

Others accepted the change begrudgingly, even if they didn’t quite understand virtual business training. These companies are typically behind the gang, with clunky technology, short training videos that they probably used to supplement mid-classroom training back in the day, and pdfs of their old classroom worksheets for you to download and print out. Stepping into virtual training isn’t because these guys actually believe in the model; it’s just because they want to feel like they’re putting in the effort to at least try to “keep up.”

I’m no David Lee Roth

In high school and university, I was never the kid to jump on board with the latest trend. In fact, I was way more likely to be in the library studying the psychology of change management in organizations than rocking a mane of headbanger-worthy hair at the latest Van Halen concert.

So when I heard the industry’s urgings to make the switch to virtual learning in order to stay relevant, I wasn’t about to hastily throw something together so we could be one of the coolest, most technologically savvy leadership development companies.

If we were going to offer a virtual management training solution, it was going to be for the right reasons and we were going to do it in the best way possible.

Three Tips I’d Give to My Closest Friends: What You Should Look for in Virtual Leadership Development

Because of my background in organizational psychology, my first step to deciding how to step into virtual management training was to settle in with some good, hearty research.

Online or virtual management training approaches–I quickly discovered–were not all created equally. The choice between great versus not so great programs was the difference between 20-30% retention and 80-90+% retention with solid long-term application.

So what sets the bad programs apart from the good?

1 – Look for Real People Connecting With People

First and foremost, the most effective training still utilizes live facilitators in a group-learning environment. One of the biggest gaps between successful and unsuccessful training occurs when participants are removed from a situation in which they can interact with their peers.

Utilizing live instructors in a group learning environment means the training program, despite being virtual, still has the capability to be interactive (as opposed to a single participant watching a training video on his or her own).

In the best virtual management training programs, these facilitators create a participative environment in which the entire group takes part in discussions. This helps participants apply and expand learning by sharing (and therefore creating correlations to) their own personal experiences. Hearing how others apply that learning to their unique situations also strengthens retention. People are social creatures tuned to crave other people’s stories, so real discussions strengthen long-term retention by providing multiple perspectives of the same piece of information.

It also creates an environment in which questions and comments can be addressed in real-time by experts. This enhances the information learned as opposed to creating a speed bump that would stint the retention of information if the participants were instead left to wonder or research alone.

What does it look like?

At Leadership Choice, we utilize an online classroom environment that allows two of our top leadership coaches to host live-virtual training events with a group of participants. This functions basically like a virtual classroom (without travel costs, catering bills, or room rentals).

Participants are able to take an active role in the class with full audio discussion capabilities, chat, polls, and more.

2 – There’s Nothing Wrong With Needing Alone Time

While a great amount of learning is capable of taking place in a virtual group-learning environment, the best virtual leadership development programs use a mixed-learning approach that includes interactive self-study.

This can take many forms, but the most effective virtual management training programs include presenting information in a clear, interesting, and effective manner, then guiding the application of the material in the participant’s particular leadership situation.

The reason this mixed learning is important is that the best business training programs appeal to each different communication pattern. Each person learns a little differently, and a great training program takes that opportunity to present information in multiple different ways in order to cover every base. If this is done in a clear, concise, and interesting way, it will benefit every learner regardless of the communication pattern. This is because learning information using multiple media platforms creates stronger connections to information, increasing retention and on-the-job application.

Interactive self-study augments the virtual classroom environment by providing the participant with background information that strengthens the base upon which the rest of the knowledge can be applied. Studies show that when a person is introduced to basic information, given time to apply that information to their personal situation (if possible), then compounds that learning with an interactive group learning environment and the personalized guidance of an expert, their retention and real-life application significantly increases (to the tune of 300%).

What does it look like?

Leadership Choice augments virtual classroom training sessions by introducing an interactive workbook at the beginning of each learning module. This workbook supplies basic information about each concept before participants take part in the virtual classroom environment. By having this base of information and by having completed the internal exercises, it maximizes the impact of the group-learning environment. Participants are able to use the virtual classrooms as an opportunity to expand knowledge in a meaningful way that maximizes retention and long-term application.

These interactive workbooks are downloadable and use multiple medias and self-application capabilities to maximize learning.

3 – Take it Personally

Finally, one of the most important aspects of a successful virtual management training program is the capability to personalize the curriculum. This isn’t to say that every training module should be rewritten hundreds of times to suit each individual, but there should be a strategy in place that makes the content, goals, and outcomes applicable to the organization and each participant.

The reasoning behind this is threefold:

  • It increases retention. If the information is personally applicable, the participant is more likely to retain the information long-term and to apply it in a real-life setting. One of the major drawbacks of any training program–virtual or classroom–is that if a participant can’t see how the information is going to immediately affect him or her, they’re likely to dismiss the information.

The most successful training programs systematically relate each piece of new information to participants (or better, give the participants the capability, knoweldge, and guidance to do it themselves) so they can more easily see how the skillsets or mindsets directly apply to or affect them.

  • New strategies can be more effectively applied in alignment with company goals. The best virtual training companies aren’t one-size-fits all. They take into consideration an organization’s goals and help each team member apply new mindsets and skillsets to achieve these goals.

For instance, learning to delegate effectively to, in general, elevate a team’s performance is one thing. Delegating to elevate a customer service team’s performance in the trial run of a new SAAS product to better strategize how to efficiently roll out the product (and future products) to the rest of your clients is another thing.

  • This approach creates measurable business results. Instead of a training program that gives you the list of topics that it will cover, an effective training program will work with the organization and leaders to develop goals for training and for post-training continuation of development. This will typically include
    1. An initial meeting with the organization and leaders
    2. Follow-up with the participant throughout training to ensure goals are on track as well as to give the participant any resources or additional information/support needed to achieve these goals
    3. Long-term development plans post-training that ensure new skills can be measured and will be applied post-training in ways that best help achieve the organization’s goals.

 

How can you implement Performance Coaching in your organization? Read more about our virtual, on-demand program →

What does it look like?

 

Individual Leadership Coaching with Virtual Training Program

 

Personalization is perhaps the trickiest—though most important—aspect of effective training programs. Leadership Choice achieves this piece of the optimal virtual leadership development trifecta by assigning each participant to a personal leadership coach. Since these coaching sessions are held virtually, the coaching doesn’t add a significant cost to the organization but adds significant success to each participant’s completion of the program.

 

Vet Your Virtual Leadership Development Company–It’s Worth It! 

Studies show that when a person is 

  1. Introduced to basic information
  2. Given time to apply that information to their personal situation, then
  3. Compounds that learning with an interactive group learning environment and the personalized guidance of an expert 

their retention and real-life application significantly increase–as much as 300%!

 

About the Author

Pat Bosworth

Founder and CEO
Patrick effectively coaches leaders at all levels and across a number of industries with a pragmatic, consultative approach. Previously, he was vice president with Right Management and held other senior OD and development positions in manufacturing and the professional services Industries. He holds an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Lamar University.