The role of a leader in training

Posted by Dermot Crowley on 1st June 2021

If you are a people leader, how do you show up to training with your team?

At Adapt, we only run in-house training – that is, we run the training for groups within your organisation rather than running public workshops that individuals can book into. Some of this in-house training is with individuals from different teams across an organisation, but much of it is with intact teams and their leaders and managers.

I firmly believe that in this scenario, the role the people leader plays in the training is directly related to the success of the training for the team. Over many years I have seen time and time again how the leader can support the success of the training or contribute to its failure to create sustained changes for the team.

Here are some different ways a leader could show up in the training, and the impact that each has on the outcome:

The undermining leader – In this situation the leader attends the training with the team, but for whatever reason, they actively undermine the concepts and strategies that are being explored. They resist changing their existing behaviours, and sometimes cynically criticise the ideas. This can be challenging for any facilitator, but also challenging for the team, who might be keen to learn new things, but are less likely to adopt them in the face of the leader’s beliefs.

The absent leader – In this scenario, the leader approves the training, but is too busy to actually participate themselves. Of course, some training is not aimed at the leader, so there should not be an expectation that they attend every training program with their team. But if the training is relevant to the whole team including the leader, not attending sends a message. It is also a missed opportunity for the leader to stand side by side with their team in creating the change.

The disengaged leader – Here the leader does attend the training but does not fully engage with the learning. They come and go, taking calls and attending other meetings, and when in the session, they may be on their laptop doing emails. This also sends a message to the team that they do not value the training themselves, and unfortunately often people follow a leader’s actions.

The participating leader – A participating leaders attends the training with their team, and actively engages in the learning. They see themselves as one of the team, and show great leadership in their participation, yet still may hold back on leading the training fully. They participate but have not partnered with the trainer to achieve the best outcome from the training.

The partnering leader – in this scenario, the leader not only attends and engages in the training, but they also do certain things before, during and after the training to ensure that the lessons have the best chance to truly change behaviours and even team culture. They partner with the facilitator to deliver a great outcome. Before the training, they might take the time to engage the team by setting the context and discussing with them what they hope the team will achieve by undertaking the training. During the training they introduce the session, again to set the context and direction. They also actively and positivity participate, and they work with the facilitator to ensure the lessons have relevance to the team. They ask useful questions and draw links between the learning and real-life issues being faced by the team. After the training they lead by example, and coach the team through their implementation.

When I reflect on the many times I have run productivity training, the engagements that have been most successful, and most pleasurable to run, are the ones where a leader partnered with me to deliver amazing outcomes for their team.

If you are a people leader, think about what you could do to maximise learning for your team. Simply allocating and approving budget is not enough. Get involved. Be strategic. Lead from the front. Maximise every hour your team spends in the training and make sure they have every chance to successfully implement the desired changes.

Share this

Leading Productivity Whitepaper

  • Enter your details below to receive your free copy