09 February 2017

The Mastery of Leadership

Sometimes the senior management of an organization resolves on the idea of providing subordinates with leadership training. Often these courses are considered unnecessary for higher levels but mandatory for mid-level, perpetuating the myth that what brings a person to the top of an organization must be correlated with what will make the organization great (or great again).

Several questions come to mind:

1: What is the goal? Is it that senior management can signal to their boards that they are striving for excellence? Is it to boost employee recruitment and retention? Is it to make mid-level managers more effective leaders?

2: Who should be taking these courses? Should it be all managers? Should it be all mid-level managers? Should it be those who rank low in leadership and leadership skills?

3: Who should be teaching the course? A self-anointed expert who read three airport books on the topic? Somebody with a Master's in Leadership from Podunk University? A practitioner: An officer who has led a company in battle, a successful former C.E.O.? A specialist who studies people: A psychologist, an anthropologist, a social scientist?

4: What should the course`s contents be? Self-awareness through insights discovery? The descriptive self? The appreciative and curious self? The coach approach? Oh my.

5: Are there alternatives to taking a course? Whatever happened to reading books and time to read them? Whatever happened to time for reflection?

To be sure, it is never a bad thing to learn something new, but time is the limiting factor for all of us. Consequently, time must be spent wisely, and activities must be prioritized. Is it useful for me to observe, read, and reflect? Probably. Is it useful for me to share my self-discovery crafts, learn to knit, juggle stress balls? Probably not.