The "failure" of Leadership Training

Recently I had the opportunity to listen to an international consultant on leadership talk about the role of leadership in organizations. While the content of this discussion was fairly good, too often this “expert” on the topic reverted to cliches and catchy phrases as the centerpiece of this training. During this session I remembered some of the highly-regarded leadership training sessions that I have attended over the years. What I came away with was two or three pages of catchy and witty leadership phrases (“If you can see it, you can be it!”), but very little in the form of actual leadership strategies I could use.

This is the “failure” of most leadership training sessions. Effective leadership is not a collection of catchy, albeit inspirational, phrases that leave you with the motivation to be the best leader you have ever been; but lack the substance that is needed to transform those cliches into effective leadership skills.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the best witty and motivational phrases as much as the next person. And I too will use them whenever I can if I think they will help me make a point. But when you drill down below the surface, true leadership skills are not enhanced or perfected by slogans, they are developed by the understanding and practice of those human behavioral influences that will help your followers and others within the organization achieve those goals that would otherwise have been unattainable.

Leadership is about influence. Achieving true influence over others within an organization requires passion, dedication and sincerity. Catchy and witty motivational phrases might illustrate passion, but over-reliance on them as a leadership tool will have others question your dedication and sincerity.