If you think of a leader as “the boss”, or “the commander“, standing alone at the head of an organization and running things, the training and development of others in the organization probably doesn’t occur to you as an important function of the leader. But that’s probably an outdated conception of leadership.
If you consider a leader as one who has to rely on the skills and abilities of his or her subordinates, and is responsible for maintaining organizational coherence and effectiveness over time, then it’s easier to see that the development of the team members or people below becomes much more important. Leaders don’t do all the work, or even much of the work in any organization, so their success relies heavily on the skills and abilities of others. An excellent leader in charge of incompetent followers simply can’t succeed.
Given that there are still many people who confuse leadership with commanding, it’s not surprising that many leaders don not pay adequate attention to building the skills and abilities of the people they are leading. In fact, in a study by The Blanchard Companies survey, 59% of respondents cited failure to train and develop staff as a major and common leadership mistake.
The prescriptions are clear. Leaders need to allocate some time to developing their immediate subordinates, and also to create opportunities for learning for others through mentoring, coaching, training, seminar attendance and highlighting best practices in the organization and outside of it. Obviously leaders are not trainers and don’t have a surplus of time, but they can both encourage and arrange for opportunities to learn.