The trend toward automation and technology solutions has certainly infiltrated the world of leadership development. Many organizations have actually gravitated to taking out LEADERS from the leadership development process. Leaders developing leaders has sometimes been replaced entirely with electronic resources such as webinars, eLearning, or other on-line education. In the marketing of these products you often see, “learn about” or “gain insight about” as descriptors of what end-users will get. These mediums are education, not training- sometimes in business circles, and in society, we become a little loose with our terminology. If you are interested, refer to any dictionary to explore the definitions of education vs. training.
When challenging an HR manager the other day about her organization’s exclusive use of eLearning as “leader development” in their organization, a senior leader chimed in with an anecdote that I had heard a few times before. He said to the HR manager, “I read books or go on-line all the time to find tips on how to become a better golfer. I have done this for several years- I wonder why my score is not improving, much less why I’m not on the PGA tour!”
Now, latent talent could be part of the explanation for this senior leader, but the answer is mostly that passively taking in content might make you think differently, but it is highly unlikely to help you act differently. Just as an idea for a new product is of little value UNTIL it is actually built and launched for users in the marketplace to experience, a leader is only better when their knowledge is translated into positive practices, behaviors, and habits that are experienced by those they actually lead. At LBR, we call this closing the “knowing-doing” gap.
Passive learning content mediums like webinars, eLearning, and other on-line coursework have a place in the leadership development process. However, by themselves, they are unlikely to achieve the desired ends expected from our leaders such as: actively engaging their people, removing obstacles to their success, improving the morale of their teams, and increasing employee productivity. Those desired ends are best achieved through active learning delivered by a mentor leader who has been there, done that and is available to help leaders solve today’s problems.
Most emerging leaders, when given a choice between on-line content and working with an experienced mentor leader, will choose the experienced mentor leader IF the goal is to become a high-performance leader. You may be wondering why this option is not more available? Mentoring emerging leaders to become high-performance leaders is real work. My guess is that most leaders that are experienced enough AND are capable of mentoring emerging leaders properly have “climbed that hill” and simply want to enjoy their success. We at LBR, have taken on this challenge and have made it our mission and purpose- to help leaders at all levels experience success and the joy that comes with changing lives for the better. Contact LBR if this is your calling as well.