While at Continental Cablevision (sadly they are no more), I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Maurice (Moe) Olivier, founder of the Academy for Corporate Excellence. As is his standard practice, Moe had created a customized leadership development program for us focused on the practices of exemplary leaders - using influence, managing change and leading transition, communicating and fostering the right work culture.
All terrific concepts from the content standpoint - yet meaningless if the course participants didn’t adopt, adapt and apply their learnings when they returned to work.. We’ve all probably heard the post-training observation that “yea, it was great stuff, but when I got back to work there was so much to do that I didn’t have time so I just kept on doing what I’d been doing.”
We wanted to cut through that attitude. We wanted some discomfort to push expanding their comfort zone so new thoughts and actions could be internalized. Our solution: partners and a plant.
Partners…and a plant
Why a plant? Plants need nurturing. Without light and water they die. Just as leadership principles do when they’re not applied.
We challenged the Leadership for Excellence participants to keep their plant, and learnings, alive by taking and making time. Time to care for the plant and to reflect on how they could keep their newfound leadership skills alive, too. I recently received an email from a course participant who told me that the plant helped him stay focused. He said a dead plant would have been a too obvious sign that he wasn’t keeping his training learnings alive!
Reflect on what you’re doing
Think back to the last training class you attended or to the last management or leadership book you read or the last mentoring session you had. Did you discover great content you wanted to use yet never found the time to make it happen? As with many things in life and leadership, you’re in the driver’s seat for expanding your comfort zone by incorporating new learnings.
3 ways to maximize the results of your leadership training
In lieu of a plant, ponder these ways to push the walls of your post leadership training comfort zone:
- Get a partner and hold each other accountable for applying just one learning principle. Make that learning nugget come to life - nurture the practice until it becomes second nature for you. Then move on to the next nugget.
- Adopt the beginner’s mind each time you take a course or read a book to improve your knowledge, skills and abilities. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.
- Embrace the both/and mindset: yes, I must handle all my normal work duties AND become a better leader by applying what I’ve learned.
And maybe, just maybe, buy yourself a plant as a visible reminder of what new things you will do and/or be.
What say you?