Traditional leadership training doesn’t work but the LMI approach does

Whilst facilitating an Effective Personal Productivity programme, I was asked by the participant why we refer repeatedly to the importance of spaced repetition, a central pillar of all LMI development programmes.

The answer to many in this modern digital age is not that obvious. To illustrate the point of just how critical to long-term learning it is, to repeat important stuff and take it slowly, I was reminded of something I read recently online.

The writer was describing the way he loved watching his granddaughter learn to do things, which I paraphrase here:

“She now knows how to put on her socks and then her shoes, and she takes great pride in demonstrating this accomplishment. Just a few months ago she was completely dependent on adults to put her shoes on, yet now she can do it herself.”

The writer then asks, “How did that transition from non-mastery to mastery take place?”, before answering his own question:

“It is obvious she became aware that shoes and socks existed and could be put on and taken off. She understood the benefit – “I can go outside and not hurt my feet” – and became aware that she couldn’t do it for herself.

“She got curious, as children of that age tend to be, about how it works. She repeatedly watched other people take off and put on her shoes. She tried it herself with support and direction, seeing what worked and didn’t work. She tried it alone, working diligently through her frustration and setbacks, until she finally managed it herself.”

Good stuff generally takes time to achieve

Woman on bicycle celebrating

This is basically how people master stuff, from tying laces and riding bikes to learning physics to driving a car. Unfortunately, it’s not how a lot of leadership training works.

Typically, we still see a lot of people gathered together for a 2-day workshop, with somebody explaining what everyone ought to be doing and why, usually with a PowerPoint presentation – but don’t worry the presentation will be made available so no notes need to be made!

All of which misses the critical point about learning to do anything worthwhile; listen, make notes, observe, try, fail, try again, succeed. Repeat.

Learning requires an inner desire

Of course, the most important aspect of any leadership training is the desire within the individual to change their current thinking and behaviour to be better at what they do. We have all probably had lessons at school disrupted by those who were not engaged with the learning process – it takes personal leadership to want to learn.

This need for inner drive, is why LMI insists on interviewing every candidate before undertaking a programme, to see if the motivation to learn is theirs, or their bosses; it makes all the difference in the world.

It is just the first step for individuals to become aware there are more effective ways to think and behave as a leader and that it is a constant process, not something that ends after the 2-day workshop and a book full of tips.

Each individual who wants to learn, then has to see how thinking and behaving in those ways will be personally beneficial in their own world.

Learn to change slowly and practice

Notebooks and pen

Which is why LMI programmes are spaced over many weeks, to allow individuals to take their new learning back to work to try it out for themselves, where it matters most. It is success in this environment that will reinforce the learning and new behaviours, not nodding heads in a group discussion at a workshop.

LMI programmes, with their spaced-repetition provide individuals the opportunity to learn leadership skills in much the same way they will have learned all the truly important stuff in their life, like putting on shoes.

It’s why we believe in them and why they have helped develop millions of new leaders for more than 50 years in 25 languages, across 80 countries.

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