The first two sections of Curated 2020 have focused on leadership competencies and leadership styles –especially as they contribute to effective Team and Organizational performance. The remaining fundamental question is: how do we increase leadership competency, while respecting and appreciating differences in leadership style?
The simple answer is: initiate a leadership development program. This has been the automatic answer that is offered by those involved in organizational training and consulting. Yet, this simple answer doesn’t do the trick. We have found that even when an organization provides leadership training (an all-too-rare occurrence), the effects of this training rarely lasts very long if the lessons learned are even applied over the short term. Leadership development requires something more complex—and a more systematic perspective on how leadership is engaged and how an organization makes most effective use of their leaders. Even more basically, effective leadership development requires a new model of training and education. We begin with a brief description of this new model.
Shifting Notions About Training and Education
The 20th Century model of education and training is based on the metaphor of pitcher and mug: how much can you pour into an empty mug in a specific period of time? In academic institutions we assign credits based on the amount poured in. In organizations, we record the number of participation hours and perhaps administer a brief test to see how much has been acquired.
Retention and Transfer
By contrast, an emerging 21st Century model of training and education concerns not how much is “learned” (poured in). The new model focuses instead on what is retained (3-6 months later) and what is transferred (“application of learning”). These shifting concerns are particularly important in leadership development (and other types of professional development)—in large part because the stakes are often very high. A substantial amount of money is often allocated to these programs, and the present or future leaders must spend valuable time in this program. Administrators at the top of the organization want to be assured that something will be retained from this expensive (money and time) program and that something will be applied.
How Do We Increase Retention and Transfer?
This is the logical next question. If retention and transfer are critical, then what will bring about increase in these two dimensions of training and education? There are several traditional means of increasing retention and transfer: (1) dispersion of the education and training programs, (2) supplement education and training with follow-up activities, (3) monitor performance following the training and education, (4) introduce memory-enhancing tools and strategies, (5) encourage practicum and field experiences (with supervision), (6) digitally based “just-in-time” learning and (7) provide coaching alongside the training and education.
We provide an expanded description of the first six means in one of the essays featured in this section of Curated 2020. However, most of the essays (and a video recorded interview) focus on the seventh strategy. We propose that organizational coaching can effectively increase both retention and transfer of learning from leadership development programs—and offer several different perspectives on how to complement leadership development with organizational coaching.1K Club