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Leadership is Relational


When I was thinking about starting my own management training program, people would tell me how it was such a crowded field. Do a Google search on management training and you'll get thousands of results. It seemed like I was entering a market that didn't need another player.

However, I knew that my program would be different. It was because most manager programs I had seen focused on things like strategy, goals, KPIs, reports, etc. In other words, the hard skills. It focused on hard skills because they are the easiest to teach. Figuring out ROI is about plugging the right numbers in - sure, finding the right numbers can be tough, but once you get them, the formula is easy.

But management and leadership aren't about those hard skills. Lots of people can do those. Management is a people-to-people activity. Or as this great article I read recently said "Leadership is, at its heart, relational". My program was going to focus on that, because when you got that right, the rest is fairly easy.

The content isn't the only thing that differentiates my program. It is the experiential design. I don't want my users practicing in a classroom (everyone, including me, hates role plays - but they work). I wanted them practicing in their work environment. I wanted them learning by doing. Particularly with the people skills, you have to do them with different people in your environment to get them to work. Which is why, right after I teach a skill, I give directions on how to go and do it in a live environment. Will it be difficult? Yes. Will they make mistakes? Yes. Will the grow further and faster doing it this way? Yes.

One thing you won't see in my program - a module on communication. That isn't because communication isn't important. It is because communication isn't one thing. Communication is multiple things. Communication isn't a separate skill, it is involved in every other skill. When I see a "communications" class or module, I question the value of that program.

If you have a spare 30 minutes somewhere, don't use it learning how to write a great performance objective (and I say this as learning professional who loves writing performance objectives). Use that 30 minutes to talk to the people on your team. Work on getting to know them as people. Show them that you appreciate them as individuals.

Leadership is Relational.

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