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February 18, 2021

What Does Great Leadership Training Do?

Great Leadership Training Enhances Culture

Great leadership training is a tool that organizations must provide, even as they struggle with addressing the burnout that their teams (and leaders!) have experienced through the seemingly endless stream of informational and entertainment content being thrown at them by the Internet due to working from home as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

In light of this, the question for human resources, learning offices, and culture gurus becomes, what does great leadership training accomplish?

Many organizations have slashed training budgets and pushed back development efforts in light of the work from home realities, and in an effort to preserve the foundations of their companies at pre-pandemic levels. Plus, there are so many webinars, podcasts, blog posts, and articles that they can throw at their employees “for free” why pay for exclusive training content?

The answer is: Most truly great leadership training focuses on analyzing, critiquing, and developing the intangibles of the leader, the team, and the organization, which is why most truly great leadership training should start from the general and move to the narrow and specific.

great leadership training

Tools like LeadingKeys can help do that, but so can webinars, books, articles, podcasts, blog posts (like this one), and more.

No matter how it starts or where it ends up, great leadership training enhances the culture that it focuses on because of the great observation by the NFL coach Chip Kelly,

“Chip Kelly, the famously disruptive NFL coach (disruptive both of opposing defenses and of his own organization in Philadelphia, where he was fired), proposed the axiom “culture beats scheme,” meaning that a team with a strong culture would be able to defeat any game-planning put up against it. And Peter Drucker, the ultimate organizational guru, is supposed to have said in a similar vein that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Without culture enhancement at even the most basic level, even the slickest, most well-produced video training content, from webinars to YouTube videos, will fail to achieve their stated promise.

Great Leadership Training Engages Implementation

Great leadership training allows the space for the learner to implement what they have learned in a safe environment.

Gamification, virtual reality, chat room functions, breakout room exercises, and video breaks during live webinars, are only some of the pedagogical tools that leadership trainers use. We’ve used them all ourselves with varying degrees of success.

great leadership training

At the end of the day, however, great leadership training should engage learners in how to implement the ideas, perspectives, and approaches to the team. It should also allow space for critical analysis, questioning of both the theory and the trainer, and practice, practice, practice. In Josh Bersin’s July 2019 article about the brokenness of leadership training, he states:

The idea that we could build a leadership pipeline through “development programs” and “a well-defined schedule of experiences” is no longer sufficient: we need to provide help through mentoring, coaching, and lots of external and internal exposure. In fact, in one of our most important studies of employee development, we found that “exposure” was one of the most important factors in development. If you’ve never seen or experienced a person or situation, it’s hard to be ready for it!”


When individuals are engaged in the process of implementation of what they’ve learned through critical analysis, questioning, experimenting, and coaching learners toward success.

Great Leadership Training Encourages Execution

Great leadership training encourages the leader, the team, and the organization to experiment with ideas and disruption and to potentially fail.

With the ravages of the pandemic continuing, many organizations may view “trial and error” policies toward leadership development with skepticism. And fair enough. After all, no organizational leader worth their salt wants to add another layer of pressure to an overworked, stressed, and burned-out team.

great leadership training

The trouble is 47% of new leaders receive no management training.

And of those who do receive training, many aren’t allowed to execute on it, because the training is viewed by superiors—many of whom have their own ideas about leadership that don’t always align with the messages provided through training organizations—as “just a ‘bunch of stuff’ that ‘we don’t do here’.” Or even worse, new leaders are often undermined when they attempt to execute on what they’ve learned with their team through leadership training.

In the world of work from home, remote work, and hybrid workplace scenarios, and leadership training that doesn’t encourage flexibility, decision making, empathy, and execution of proven skills in the workplace and with the work team, should be roundly rejected.

Great leadership training focuses on moving the learner from general concepts to specific cultural practices unique to their organization, them providing the tools for learners to implement what they have learned, and finally, encouraging execution at scale with the team.

Article written by Jesan Sorrells
Jesan Sorrells serves as the CEO of HSCT Publishing, the home of leadership development platforms, Leadership ToolBox, LeaderBuzz, and LeadingKeys..Backed by over 7 years of direct, in-person training experience with over 15,000+ managers and supervisors across multiple industry verticals, LeadingKeys, Leadership Toolbox, and LeaderBuzz deliver leadership and talent solutions to managers and supervisors of SMB's.
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