Leadership Training is an Oxymoron

April 5, 2013

You can’t train someone to be a leader.

You can provide a context in which they can learn to be leaders.  That’s everywhere, every day.  People learn to lead when their butt is on the line.  They learn to lead when they clarify a vision with others and then, through trial and error, make it happen.

People don’t learn to lead in a classroom.  Too many leadership development efforts are still stuck in a classroom, trying to “train” leadership.  Guru’s sharing concepts and frameworks that, while potentially smart, never get used.  Sure, some of the ideas are good and useful , but let’s be honest; people don’t walk out of training sessions knowing how to lead—ever. You don’t learn to drive, ski, swim, bike, or golf in a classroom training setting.  Why would leadership be any different?

Give people concepts, but then get them on the court.  Believe in them, support them, and then hold them accountable.

This concept seems so obvious, and yet is still so missed by so many organizaitions still spending so much money on leadership training that doesn’t actually develop leaders.