Leaders Must Be Trained to Lead

Leaders Must Be Trained to Lead

Recently I was speaking to a friend of mine who was the Vice-President for Marketing of a large national retail enterprise. I asked him what he saw as the biggest challenge mid-level managers struggled with. His answer, after I gave it some thought, was really no surprise. He said one of the biggest challenges mid-level managers struggle with was the transition of moving from managing to leading.

There certainly is a difference between managing and leading, and business literature abounds with nifty sayings about the difference. Quotes like, “managers manage things, leaders lead people” and “a manager says go while a leader says let’s go”, or “managers read reports, leaders read people.”

The transition from being a manager to a leader is a big one, and many times being promoted from becoming a manager to a leader comes with zero leadership training. Thus, the need for leadership training on a continual basis. It is kind of like a business investing in a fitness center, so the employees have a resource to stay physically fit. Companies must also invest in a leadership development program so leaders develop to be stronger leaders.

The truth is, leaders must be trained to lead.

Fortune 100 Example

I conducted a leadership assessment at a manufacturing plant that was operated by a Fortune 100 company. Hourly employees were being promoted into supervisory and leadership positions without the benefit of leadership training. The result was poor leadership which resulted in poor morale, perception of favoritism and retaliation, a general lack of trust, and concerns for enforcing workplace safety standards. The primary reason employees did not leave the company in large numbers is because the pay outpaced competitors in the area. Employees stayed because of the pay but the work environment was miserable, and this no doubt affected the health and well-being of employees and the quality of the product being produced.

Unfortunately, from my experience working in industry, the failure to provide leadership training is more common than it is an anomaly. Most of these companies would never consider assigning a worker to a piece of equipment they were not qualified to operate. For example, forklift operators need to be trained and licensed on a forklift before they are assigned that position. However, the same company, often, will place someone with technical skills into a leadership position without leadership training. The results are dramatic when one considers that people are really the most important resource in any organization, and when people are led poorly, they generally perform poorly.

The answer is sustainable leadership development programs. People should be trained in basic leadership principles before being placed in leadership positions. This leadership training should then be sustained for those who remain in a leadership role. A mentorship program is also a valuable way to ensure leaders continue to develop. Potentially, a company could partner with another company in a similar industry, so the mentors are not too close to the situation at hand. This is very effective.

It is not a coincidence that companies that invest in sustainable and long-term leadership development programs have greater profitability, a more positive workplace environment, and healthier and more positive employees. Interestingly, customer service ratings are also higher. When employees are treated well in the workplace, those same employees then tend to treat customers well. When customer service is good, good profits tend to follow. There are many sound reasons for companies to invest in leader development.

When in doubt, Leaders Must Be Trained to Lead. And don’t be shy to reach out to me to discuss.

Living One’s Values

“Values are inspiring when read, but most powerful when lived.” Many organizations have values. You can find these values on posters plastered on walls throughout the corporate headquarters or prominently displayed on the organization’s website. These values can...

What Is Servant-Leadership Anyway?

Servant-leadership emphasizes a leader's responsibility to serve the needs of their followers, prioritizing their growth, well-being, and success. Here's a breakdown of key points: Providing Training and Resources: Servant-leaders recognize the importance of equipping...

Consistency is the Cornerstone of Success

I had a friend who was motivated to compete in an IronMan triathlon. He trained hard, watched his diet, stopped drinking alcohol, and slept eight hours every night. His motivation paid off. He ran his first and only IronMan distance triathlon and he was very proud of...

Lead By Asking

I have a question. What is a powerful leadership tool that can enhance team dynamics, promote growth, and drive success? Good leaders are good communicators and good communicators are good listeners. Good leaders must ask their teammates and other stakeholders...

Penn State Great Valley Commencement Speech

On Friday, May 3, 2024, I had the pleasure of delivering the commencement speech for the graduate student graduation at the Penn State Great Valley campus in Malvern, Pennsylvania.  View the speech here   Following is the text of the speech I delivered to the...

Developing Resilient Teams

Photo credit: Smithsonian Magazine Teams do not rise to the occasion; they perform at their level of training. This was demonstrated very clearly in April 1970 when Gene Kranz and his team at NASA mission control successfully brought the astronauts of Apollo 13 back...

Motivating Others – A Guide For Leaders

When I speak to junior leaders someone usually poses the following question: How do I motivate those I lead? When I ask groups of leaders about some of their biggest challenges, motivating others is always on the list. Leaders must have the ability to motivate their...

What Attribute Do You Look For in a Leader?

What attributes do you look for in a leader? I asked this question of a group of aspiring leaders I recently spoke to and here are the top five attributes this group said they look for in their leaders. Call it like it is. Provide direct communication and feedback....

What Good Leaders Do

Millions of Americans watched the women's NCAA Final Four basketball game between UConn and Iowa on Friday, April 5, 2024. With seconds on the clock and UConn behind by one point and making a run at going ahead with a game-winning bucket, a referee stopped the game...

Civilianizing Mission Command

The Army does a great job of training leaders who are both competent and display character. To be effective, leaders must demonstrate both. General Norman Schwarzkopf made this crystal clear when he spoke to the corps of cadets at West Point on May 1, 1991. One of the...
Share This