The Point: It is no secret that leaders are smart and capable. During the course of their careers, they have perused best-selling books on leadership, taken leadership training (including associated assessments), and attended multiple communication skills training lessons. But with all of those training opportunities under their belts, they still fail to effectively lead. Think of the fruitless and unconstructive discussions at meetings and business divisions that somehow never seem to make a profit (or scratch the surface of their potential profit). If you’re a leader facing similar circumstances, but are unable to determine the root cause, you have come to the right place. In this post, you will learn why communications skills training for leaders often fails and what can be done to counter this… Enjoy!
Less Emphasis on the Practical Aspects of Leadership
The fundamental flaw in most books and courses on leadership is that there a greater emphasis on the theoretical aspects of leadership instead of practical ones. Sometimes, there can be an information overload. The need of the hour is for communication skills trainers to teach leaders about what has to be done in their position and the courage to take some flair for it.
While communication skills training for leaders involves simulated events where trainees are required to take charge of the situation, followed by critique of how well they were able to do. The limitations of such a model will be discussed at the end, but here the emphasis is on on-the-job leadership communication training.
This means the mentor or coach accompanies the executive at the workplace as the latter leads a session, conducts training, or oversees a meeting. This is where the actual leadership skills will be tested, instead of a safe, simulated environment. The coach has to make sure that s/he doesn’t interrupt or correct the trainee during any task, but only to offer insight during breaks in private.
Having Superficial Notions about Communication
Another reason communications skills training for leaders often fails may have nothing to do with the “tool” and everything with the “technique’ involved. Most leaders only have a surface level understanding of what communication is. For them, it is only about emails and memos. However, communication is a diverse topic that has to be approached from various angles in order to be effective (and every angle therein!)
The fundamental principle is the clarity and consistency of messages you send to your workforce. Bad leaders send mixed messages and keep their employees in the dark. This creates friction, and is a primary cause of low job satisfaction and retention. Good communication skills training should address this issue if they are to make leaders better.
Focusing on the Training Aspect
Finally and most importantly, is the mere fact that such leadership development programs place emphasis on “training” instead of “development” of leaders. These two words are not interchangeable, contrary to popular opinion. Training, in its essence, is rote learning and one-way reception of fixed norms and principles, while development is dynamic. It focuses on unique personalities of each person and the end goal is helping trainees achieve their true potential as leaders.
To sum up, simply going for communication skills training is not enough as a leader. You need to make sure that the leadership development actually focuses on developing leaders. This involves teaching real-life lessons, clear-cut communication, and paving the way for future development.