Training Managers to Become Leaders

It has been said that if you don’t know the difference between a manager and a leader, you are probably a manager. Transforming a manager to become a leader is a long and careful process. The skills in managing finance and inventory are different to the skills needed to lead people, either as individuals or teams.The skills required in leadership are often confused with the cognitive (knowledge) side of a job. Training in leadership requires a totally different approach than training in, say, supply chain management.

Before any training takes place, one basic question needs to be asked and answered. The question is, “What does it take to do this job at the highest possible level?” It is clear that most jobs in the business world require a degree of emotional competence with a high level of interpersonal influence. Time and again, it has been found that the successful people in business are not always the ones with the greatest brainpower but the ones with the greater emotional competence.

The basics of emotional intelligence include self-awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. These are the primary attributes that support the development of emotional competence.

Again, before any training takes place each individual should be assessed. This assessment should come from multiple perspectives. This will produce a picture of the individual. Giving feedback on the assessments has to be done by people with empathy, self-awareness and sensitivity. If the wrong people give the feedback the result will be disastrous. The feedback must be balanced because focusing on failings or weak points and not noting the strong points is demoralizing.

Putting people on training courses is a waste of time if those people are not motivated to learn. Generally speaking, only about 20 percent of the group are ready to put in the work necessary to change workplace behavior. The rest, are happy to be away from work, or have been told that they must attend. Obviously, they reduce the collective enthusiasm of the group and make it hard for the 20 percent committed to change.

It would be generous to say that at least 50 percent of training in the “soft skills” is wasted. This is a considerable loss, especially when there is such a demand for people who are competent in leadership.

This means that even before any training takes place, there are people who will not put any of it into practice because they are not motivated sufficiently. They are not ready to learn and take action. When you think of leadership training like this, it is necessary to develop some strategies to prevent a colossal waste of time and money.

The first strategy is for the team leader to meet each participant, then discuss the program to gauge how the people feel about it. This is an opportunity for the team leader to deal with any concerns that the person may have and discuss the expectations of subsequent changes. It is also an opportunity to assess the readiness of that person to learn and take action. This simple strategy gives the opportunity to pre-qualify the group members.

There is a direct relationship between personal motivation and learning. This is an area which is often overlooked. If we are motivated to improve ourselves and our performance and can see that a training intervention can contribute to that change, we will get the most benefit from it. Moving from management to leadership is one of those important events in life that will expose deficiencies in skill and knowledge.

If you can identify the dreams, hopes and goals of managers and what they want to do with their life, you can present leadership training as a path to achievement. This will enable them to see the training as an opportunity for their own personal development. Automatically, this will raise their level of motivation. Spending time with the participants before the training enables you to answer their unspoken question What’s In It For Me?

If prospective participants can see that developing certain skills will help them to do better at work and increase their value to the organization, they arrived at the training program with a high level of motivation for learning.

Leadership training is an event which is the first step in a lifetime process. If people can see the personal value they will wholeheartedly embrace the concepts and also ensure that there is a change in their behavior back in the workplace.

Promotion can expose a person’s need to improve their emotional intelligence. It becomes painfully obvious as the person struggles to adapt to the new responsibilities.

Logically speaking, they should be equipped with the correct training before they are promoted not after. But unfortunately in the turbulence of everyday work life this rarely happens.

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