Here is an interesting question: Where does leadership training take place? I used to say the classroom, seminar, denomination headquarters or Bible College. The common perception has been leadership development is somewhere you go to attain the appropriate information you need to lead, and then returned to put your new knowledge into practice. So typically when we have a potential leader we start looking for the place to send them for training.
Not so today. The second movement in leadership development is INTEGRATION – integrating your leadership development efforts into the everyday responsibilities of your organization. The best classroom today is your workplace or ministry.
As I have said before if you want to teach a person to swim, put them in a swimming pool not a classroom. The same goes for leadership: If you want to teach someone to lead, put them in leadership not a classroom. Ran Charan, in Leaders at all Levels says, “Leadership can only be developed through practice.” If this is true, which I believe it is, then the best place to “practice” is in real life situations. So we must find ways to develop leaders in the context of what we are currently doing.
What are some ways we can do this?
- Encourage your managers to find intentional opportunities to delegate specific responsibilities for the purpose of developing young leaders.
- Ask the questions: Who do we need to focus on developing to the next level? What assignments can we give them that will help them acquire the skills they need to get there?
- Utilize Project Teams to develop young talent. There have been occasions we have put together a project team and assigned a young leader to lead the team for the sole purpose of developing their leadership skills. They end up growing and gaining confidence as a leader, plus we get an important project done for the organization.
- Promote someone before they are ready. You don’t want to do this for everyone, but for some of your high potential leaders that is the best way for them to grow. At the appropriate time put them in a position that is over their head and watch them rise to the occasion. Of course match them with a mentor who will coach them along their journey, to insure they are learning from their frustrations and failures.
- Embrace a mentality that recognizes failure is an absolute essential part of the development process. Create a culture where failure is celebrated and coached.
For integration to truly take place in your culture, leaders at every level must have a development mentality. They must understand that developing leaders is an every day part of their responsibility.