John D. Rockefeller, Jr. once said, “The secret of success is to do the common things uncommonly well.” In other words, master the basics.
John Wooden is arguably the best college basketball coach of all time. His UCLA Bruins won 10 national championships that included an 88-game winning streak, a record that has never been matched. What is John Wooden’s secret? He understands the importance of proper development to set people up for success. There have been many books written about his “Pyramid of Success” and how he coached his players. I believe it started with fundamentals. My favorite story is when John led a kids’ basketball camp, and he had all the young men, prior to starting the camp, sit down and take off their shoes and socks. He then instructed them on how to put on their socks properly, followed by their shoes. Most kids found this to be elementary, but John explained that his players never got blisters. Which means they could play a whole game or a whole practice without feet problems. While I’m not suggesting leaders need help putting on their shoes correctly, I do believe focusing on the basics is an important part of training. Below I explain more about this and identify a few other guidelines for solid, effective leadership development that should be applied to every training:
Guidelines for effective leadership development training:
- Include the fundamentals. Many organizations lack consistency with the simple things. As illustrated in the story about Coach Wooden, you are setting up everyone for long-term success by focusing on a few fundamentals at every training. You may get pushback from seasoned leaders who feel they don’t need to review the basics. Address it head on by connecting to the “WHY”. (Gain tips for connecting to the “why” in part one of this insight series). Also, consider separating seasoned leaders from new leaders during some of that development time.
- Formalize the training. In our Studer Group partnerships we call our leader development sessions Leader Development Institutes (LDIs). They are designed to happen once per quarter. Leaders gather together, typically off-site, and learn from each other, grow and develop the skills necessary to bridge that gap that exists between where they are now and where they need/want to be. The method and the means may vary, but there is a consistent goal: gain at least 30+ hours of education and development per year. According to Training Magazine, 36% of organizations in America have NO formal leader development program, and another 34% say their training is average in quality. Make yours happen and make it count.
- Always create a leader development team. Trainings should be organized by a designated leadership development team, and establish a leadership champion to direct this team. The team should be varied in its makeup and in its strength of leaders. This means you have some experienced leaders and some newer leaders. Curriculum should be established and approved by the team and by the senior leaders.
- Hold training off site to minimize distractions. Typically there is a theme to the training, and many organizations will dress up or have activities related to that theme. Sometimes the information is provided by internal sources, but more often than not external teachers and leaders provide the resources and the information to the leadership team. For instance, I travel the country as a National Speaker and conduct leader development training every month, as do many of our team at Studer Group. And, at Studer Group, our own coaches gain 80 hours of development every year.
This entire message is really about setting up leaders for their highest level of accomplishment. The right people, in the right place, for the right purpose. Think back to our two emerging leaders in part one of this series. It’s about putting Jim that new nurse manager, or Haley that experienced manager with senior leadership potential, in the best place so when opportunity meets preparation, you have success.
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