When people think of leadership training, they often imagine going offsite for a few days to enjoy an immersive experience of reflection and learning that promotes growth. This kind of leadership retreat is a big investment that can be enormously valuable for individuals and teams, paying long-term dividends for the organization for years to come.
For the very reason that leadership development can be so costly, this kind of training is often reserved for a select few—the people who are already in more senior positions and up-and-coming high performers. After all, is it worth the investment now if someone does not have a large enough team to lead or might be in one of those positions in the future?
The problem with this approach to training leaders, however, is that we need leaders to emerge at every level now. If we are to effectively manage in an increasingly complex environment where direct reporting lines are disrupted by an increasing need for collaboration, then we need to develop leaders today.
Leadership development in today’s world is essential at every level. That’s why it is vital for organizations to start thinking about how to not only approach leadership development with a model that takes people offsite but to identify ways to deliver small amounts of information in the regular course of doing business. By using these “microlearning” opportunities, we help the everyday leader learn to develop a leadership mindset and skills that are applicable and actionable in their everyday work.
Corporate learning trends today are shifting away from the structured and toward the self-directed. Why not apply this same approach to leadership development as a means of actively cultivating leadership capability from the bottom up, rather than invest in leadership development from the top down?
"Employees want more than structured corporate training and development programs. They want to discover and define their own personal learning journeys. They expect learning to be available everywhere and at any time, across a broad range of modalities and content, within the flow of their day-to-day work.” - John Hiraoka, Chief Strategy Officer at Saba
While the approach to leadership development continues to evolve, there is an abundance of “microlearning” topics positional leaders can choose from to support individuals at every level who are pursuing their personal learning journey as a leader.
Here are three recommended “microlearning” topics for giving the everyday leader access to some of the leadership fundamentals that can help them do their job better now:
1. Thinking Strategically
At its simplest level, thinking strategically is about applying Stephen R. Covey’s principle to “begin with the end in mind.” Action plans created in the absence of clear and specific outcomes often lead to working harder rather than smarter. So, consider how you can actively and consciously cultivate this skill in the people you lead during everyday interactions such as reviewing project plans.
Embracing a higher level of responsibility, the kind that requires you to be able to lead others, requires that you learn how to be accountable and hold others to account. Yet to hold others to account you must first learn to be accountable. You can start by specifically talking about what it means to be accountable to individuals and/or with your team.
Get past the concept of accountability and into the application of accountability by identifying specific examples together of where accountability has been strong and where it has been weak. Explore the impact that strong accountability makes on performance as well as the real costs of weak accountability based on your shared experiences.
3. Speaking Up
If you want people to lead, they need to get comfortable speaking up. Some specific examples of speaking up are sharing an opinion in a way that moves progress forward rather than impedes it by challenging the thinking of others in a way that earns respect; and the courage to share an idea that goes against the grain of the status quo.
The key to bringing leadership development to the everyday work environment is to identify those specific leadership mindsets and skills that can help those you lead do better and be better in achieving the goals in front of them now.
These are just a few examples of microlearning opportunities you can create for developing leaders in the course of doing business every day.
What “microlearning” topics could you add to this list to support those you lead in developing themselves as leaders in their everyday efforts to achieve better results?