Leadership Training: Is It Really Working?

If you live long enough, you’ve probably been through some form of leadership training, right? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books written on the subject over several decades, right? There are no shortages of conferences, seminars, workshops, tapes, CDs and apps about leadership, right? Then there are the lists, Top 10 this, Five Steps to…, Ten Ways to Lead…How to Lead by…and more and more and more, right?

I’m guessing you’re with me so far.

My question is, “why is it all not working?” The average CEO in a large hospital system lasts three years. NFL, MBA, NHL, NBA coaches barely make it past three seasons. And then there are the leaders who fail and are rewarded for failing with multi-million dollars goodbye packages. They are no longer golden parachutes as they are much more lucrative that mere gold. They get all this because they were terrible leaders who put their organizations in harm’s way and/or failed to lead their organizations to a stronger market position.

Maybe you felt this way too, but I often sat through those painful leadership trainings and thought to myself, “I haven’t heard anything about creativity, common sense, treating people well, being visible, meeting with frontline people, asking for help, or asking staff what they need in a leader.” Instead, I got the fad of the moment. Do you remember Total Quality Management (TQM)? Lifeless and insulting from my perspective. There were many more. They were expensive, time consuming, buy in from staff was terrible and months later there was “something better” for your troubled company.

When I think of great leaders, I don’t think of CEOs in suits or dresses; rather, I think of mavericks, risk-takers, people of conviction, courageous people, entrepreneurs, visionaries and mostly people with a treasure chest of creativity. They don’t follow policy, they follow a dream that has been validated. They embrace banter, controversy, drawing boards and the creative process toward development. They don’t mind failing because they quickly learn, adjust and re-invent before anything devastating happens. They break rules, molds, boundaries and walls. They inspire, energize, motivate, reward, laugh and have more humanity. They give back, not for the tax write-off, but because it is right, can be done and can be integrated into their workplace culture.

These folks are not at leadership training workshops because they are too busy leading from within and energized by a whole bunch of fellow creative thinkers.

My concern for our future focuses on our lack of avenues to stimulate creativity. Our children don’t make up games, they are handed game apps. They don’t take an old broom stick and turn it into a stickball bat, they get $300 aluminum bats and batting gloves. They don’t build snow castles, they have Dad hire a professional who will build a ice hockey rink on their front lawn. Students don’t find things out for themselves, they want you to give them a link. We cut art and music classes in schools and buy our kids iPhones with all the music they could listen to in a lifetime.

Where is imagination development? Where are classes in creativity? What happened to make believe? Tell me a story you made up yourself, not a You Tube clip of a cat twerking. Don’t give me a template, let me figure it out myself. I grow by stumbling. I get better when I fail. I shouldn’t get a trophy for coming in 13th, I should be stimulated by the possibility of coming in first next time because I did it differently.

In order to develop more successful leaders, forget leadership training. Let’s get people creating again. Try building imagination skills. Start creativity clubs. Push your kids out to the backyard without any gadgets. When was the last time a kid got a bag of blocks for Christmas? Man, the things I made with blocks…were totally collapsable…but fun to try!

If your boss sends you to a leadership conference, go to the city, walk around, imagine, observe, talk to a stranger about what they do, then make a few notes. Your experiences will be far better than Track A, Track B or the keynote speaker on Leadership.

Now…go out and change something!Image


About radioman961
President, Success Stories, Inc. - a marketing and management consulting firm since 1990. I hosted a weekly health talk radio program, Spotlight on Health and started a not for profit, Spotlight on Hope, Inc. I serve as the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of LifeCellDx, Inc. (now for sale). Co-writer of Episodes the movie.

One Response to Leadership Training: Is It Really Working?

  1. Pingback: Leadership Training: Is It Really Working? | SPOTLIGHT ON SUCCESS

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: