Leadership Training Myths

Leadership Training myths look at the common misunderstandings that end up devaluing leadership trainings. Leadership training myths cost companies dearly.

I agree that at sometimes in leadership training an element of seriousness can be helpful but a lot of the time seriousness means boring and for people who are taking time out their busy schedules and demanding jobs, to be bored is not something that they’re signing up for. That’s the first reason why being serious during leadership training can be detrimental. It can actually reduce the amount of information that a person takes in because when someone is bored they’re not listening.

That means they are certainly not retaining the information and they are not going to use the information afterwards. Being engaging is really the key within leadership training and with many other forms of training. One of the ways to do this is to involve the participants and there many strategies that you can use to make sure that people are actively participating with their brain and engaging with their mind that tend not to be of a serious nature.  To be clear; the results that you’ll get are seriously good results but the method to get there doesn’t tend to be serious. There have been a lot of studies done on fun and being in a state of fun or a non-stressed state, for example the relaxed state can really spur on a person’s creativity.

During leadership trainings, one of our outcomes is to have people process the information and be thinking for themselves how they can utilize their role. We know that we’re not experts in each individual role in an organization; we’re just experts in leadership training and giving you information, we want to train you to digest the information and then use it in the best way for yourselves. That’s the first myth.

The second myth is that leadership training surveys can be useful for understanding the effectiveness of the training. This may be very controversial but the research that we’ve done in to surveys shows that a lot of the time people are not aware of the actual answers that are being asked for and the given answer may or may not actually be true.  If you’re using a survey to gather data and information and the information that you want is actually the answers to the questions then I think it’s not the best way of doing things because the information that you get is likely not to be reliable.

It can subsequently be detrimental if you’re going to use it as if it is reliable and true. Surveys can be useful for other things but that’s outside of the scope of what we’re talking about right now. One of the studies that give us some interesting food for thought on this topic is a study with stockings.  The experimenters gathered together a group of people and had 4 different pairs of stockings for those people to examine. They could touch the stockings, rub them on their skin etc. The idea was they gave their favorite of the stockings, which stockings they preferred and why. The reasons that people came up with are some very logical reasons like the sheerness, elasticity, tone and quality. Unfortunately, all four sets of stockings were all the same.

So when people were choosing different ones and saying that they prefer this for these reasons, they are making it up. They weren’t lying and yet the effect is that you have information that’s very misleading. This whole series of experiments gives us a lot of data about how unaware we are of the different processes that were going on and subsequently using surveys to identify what’s going on for people is not really effective.

There’s another famous experiment in the neuromarketing world, which actually looked at people who smokes cigarettes. It asked a selection of people who smoke what effect the pictures on the back of the cigarette packets had on them. The response was that the pictures were absolutely off putting, they made them not want to smoke and not want to buy cigarettes.

When they looked at these smoker’s brain (when they’re looking at the images on the back of the cigarette packs) what they actually found is that the addiction centers in the brain light up. The extrapolation would be that they are strengthening their addiction to cigarettes through looking at these pictures. We don’t know exactly why it happens but the result is that the part of the brain is being activated is the addiction centre so they’re more likely to have a cigarette when they see these pictures. Obviously that’s not the aim so it needs to be changed if the outcome is different!

The final myth that we’ll look at is that all leadership trainings are the same. In times gone by there may have been large similarities between leadership trainings. A lot of leadership trainings have been based on observation which are fantastic but then also involve an element of guess work in terms of what do these observations mean and how do we use them.  It’s very experiential in terms of “let’s try this and see what happens” and “let’s try that to see what happens”. That continues to be the case today for a lot of companies. Leadership training today has the opportunity to draw upon the knowledge base from many disciplines, for example Neuroscience.

If we actually get to grips with what we know about the brain, the ability to lead people, the ability to manage people and our ability to communicate with people goes through the roof.  We can gain whole lot more information and more ability if we look at these disciplines and the other things that have so much to offer to leadership trainings today. Today I would argue that leadership trainings are much more diverse than ever before and give an opportunity to really get much deeper into leadership than it’s ever been possible to do before.

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