One of most organization’s essential needs is an adequate and continuous leadership training program. Unfortunately, while some organizations create and administer one, many do not include the needed ingredients to properly or effectively train leaders. Leadership training is far more than simply discussing the philosophy of leadership, or some random ideas about governance, or merely providing manuals for new leaders. Effective leadership training is an ongoing exercise, and must include certain key topics, including:
(1) The Decision- Making Process: New and prospective leaders should be extensively trained in all the factors involved in arriving at a well thought-out decision. This training must demonstrate the dangers of making hasty decisions, as well as the dangers of being indecisive. It must include training in data analysis, human relations, understanding human nature, etc.
(2) Evaluation: This training must effectively train leaders in the process and implementation of evaluating situations, and develop an understanding of various ramifications.
(3) Communication Skills: Leaders must learn and understand that communicating requires far more than merely e-mailing. It requires using all communication areas including face-to-face, one-to-one, presentations/ speeches, telephone, texting, conference calls, Webinars, etc.
(4) Staff Relations: Leaders must be trained in how to effectively deal with and handle paid staff, and the fine line between being friendly and befriending staff members. Many “leaders” make the mistake of trying to be friends with paid staff, and this often ends up clouding judgment and reducing effectiveness.
(5) Negotiating Basics: Leaders do not need to be trained to be negotiators themselves, but must understand the basics, and obey the rules of what they should and should never do, so as not to weaken the organization’s negotiating position.
(6) Organizational Orientation and Historical Perspective: Prospective leaders must fully understand the organization’s mission, and must have a vision that relates to the mission. They must also understand something about the heritage, so that they can better inter-relate with membership.
(7) Emphasis on Membership: Leaders must understand their responsibility is to do what is always in the best interest of the organization and its members.
(8) Job Responsibilities, Commitments, and Expectations: Prospective leaders should never assume a position “blindly,” but have a good understanding of the time and resource commitment, responsibilities and expectations of the position.
(9) Positive Mental Attitude: Leaders must approach their position in a positive nature and with a positive point-of-view. They must have a “can-do” rather than a “can’t be done” philosophy. Must look at obstacles as challenges instead of problems.
(10) Understand the Essentials and Use of Parliamentary Procedure, and how to run an effective meeting
(11) Learn how To effectively give a speech. While a leader does not have to be a “great” speaker or orator, he must be able to effectively communicate at a minimum, and hopefully also motivate his audience.
(12) Understand the Concept of Sound-Bytes: Leaders must be able to easily, in thirty seconds or less, answer someone in a compelling way, when asked about their organization.
(13) Must Know the “5 Steps to Answering an Objection.” If a leader cannot use objections to his advantage, he will never be an optimum leader, in terms of effectiveness.
Other areas that must be in a Leadership Training curriculum include: management necessities; the importance and need for effective follow-up; having the courage to do the right thing; having a vision and being able to effectively articulate it; motivating others; an efficient and effective work ethic; productivity; the basics of budgeting; financial realities; membership retention/ attraction; etc.
Organizations must not hesitate nor minimize how important effective leadership training is to the success, viability, productivity, and ability to evolve of their organization. In my three decades of consulting, I have witnessed many organizations with inadequate leadership training, and far fewer with a good training program. Invariably, organizations that do continuous and true leadership training are far more successful in achieving their missions and goals.
By James Clapton