HOW TO: Tell If Your Company Needs Leadership Training

by Sharlyn Lauby on July 19, 2012

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is sponsored by ITM Group. Yep, that’s my company. We focus on delivering workplace training in the areas of leadership, employee performance coaching, and group dynamics. I wanted to write a post specifically directed at the work we do and thought this would be a very upfront way of addressing it. Hope you enjoy the post!)

A survey from Chief Learning Officer magazine indicates that companies are maintaining or increasing their leadership training budgets this year. Why? Well, the reason is fairly obvious – businesses need good leadership. And we all know what good leadership does for our companies:  it helps us achieve our business goals, engage our employees and grow the company. This translates into bottom-line profits and increased shareholder value.

training, consulting, human resources, hr, leadership, leadership trainingSome companies might argue that leadership training doesn’t have to be pro-active. When a need arises, then you conduct training. Unfortunately, this can set your organization on a bit of a roller coaster where you have peaks and valleys of organizational effectiveness based upon the quality of the leadership team (or lack thereof).

If you’re wondering how your leadership is faring right now, here are a few indicators that will tell you if leadership training might be necessary:

1) Because Your Employees Say So – I don’t expect that employees come to your office and say “Get my manager some training asap!” – although they might. But they will come to your office and say things like:

“My manager is playing favorites.”

“My manager doesn’t know what’s happening in our department.”

“My manager promised me an answer last week and I haven’t heard a thing!”

“Everyone is getting away with murder and my manager isn’t doing a thing about it.”

Employee comments can be an indicator of a bigger issue. Listen to their concerns and ask yourself why they are happening.

2) Because Senior Leadership Says So – When executives can’t take a day off out of fear the office will fall apart, or when some C-Suite leader gets a call on the weekend because a manager can’t fix something…you can bet your reserved parking space a discussion about the quality of leadership will arise.

Also consider if you have senior executives who are planning their retirement, it’s perfectly normal and in the best interest of your business to have a conversation about where the next generation of leaders will come from and how to get them ready for those roles and responsibilities.

3) Because Your Customers Say So – I’ve known executives who were afraid to grow their company because the leadership team couldn’t handle it. I’ve known customers who would only deal with one person in a company because they didn’t trust anyone else.

Your company is in business to make money. This means your leadership team must be effective in order for your business to deliver products/services and keep customers happy. Is a fear of customer expectations or a lack of innovation restricting company profits? Yep, you can look for that to become a leadership conversation.

leadership, training, leadership training, employee training, employee engagement

Any of these signs are reason to think about your leadership team. Ask yourself the following question and answer it with brutal honesty, “If I didn’t work here, would I still be the evangelist for this brand? Would I still buy the product/service the company offers?”

ITM Group offers leadership programs that focus on being a capable leader, coaching employees for improved performance and effective decision making. I hope you’ll take a moment to check out our training programs here. Thanks for being a supporter of HR Bartender!

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Blogging4Jobs July 19, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Hi Sharlyn,

I completely agree when you discuss complaints on behalf of employees. Happy employees are an indicator that management is doing something right. Unhappy employees (plural) are an indicator that internal improvement may be necessary. Sometimes, you make come across a bad apple with unwarranted complaints. However, employee concerns are usually a sign that individuals in leadership should re-evaluate their tactics.

-JMM
Blogging4Jobs recently posted..5 Simple Steps to Build Your Personal Brand

PM Hut July 20, 2012 at 4:07 am

Hi Sharlyn,

When reading the second part of this post (“Because Senior Leadership…”) I felt that you are mixing leadership with management. If the wrong executives are getting calls at night because something is broken then there is a problem with management somewhere.
PM Hut recently posted..The Carpenter Project Management Theory

Sharlyn Lauby July 20, 2012 at 9:30 am

@Jessica – Thanks for the comment. I agree with your point about watching for trends with employees. A complaint from one employee might mean one thing. Complaints from multiple employees can indicate something else.

@PM Hut – I believe that leadership and management are two different things. Your point about calling the wrong person is true. Not only will there be questions about calls being made in the first place, but then who is getting the calls. Thanks for the comment!

Tyler Murphy July 23, 2012 at 9:48 am

Some interesting points here – I’ve certainly noticed that it can be a problem when senior members can’t leave a project alone for fear of something going wrong, though I think that’s more about trust that leadership.
Tyler Murphy recently posted..The Evils of the Buffet

Sharlyn Lauby July 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Valid point about trust and leadership. There are definitely some managers who should trust their employees and don’t. But there are also managers who’ve never had a discussion about the right conditions to transfer power, control and authority to employees.

Charles Plant July 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Stagnant sales, declining profits and all sorts of other metrics are another key to the need for leadership training. Effective implementation of strategy only happens when there is good leadership so while your employees, leaders or customers might mot be telling you that leadership training is needed, your results might speak for themselves.
Charles Plant recently posted..Calm down

Sharlyn Lauby July 23, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Thanks for the comment. It’s a good point – about your financials telling you if leadership training is necessary. Hopefully, customer complaints or concerns send a red flag before it’s really too late.

Time Clocks July 27, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Yes, Sharyln! I agree and also feel that a well-trained leader is capable of bringing the best out of his or her employees. Training programs can build higher confidence levels that are useful in making decisions and guiding the company in the right direction. Pro-active leadership training is a great way to improve working environments for all those involved, from the customers to the employees.

Paul Maulin

Sharlyn Lauby July 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Thanks for the comment Paul. I totally agree that training can boost confidence and act as a confirmation of things we have read or heard from others.

Joanne October 1, 2012 at 7:52 am

This is a nice article.. and it’s quite true

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