Many in the corporate world agree that there’s a leadership crisis. Companies find themselves having to shape leaders rather than find them, making good leadership training highly sought after.
While the short-term benefits of good leadership training are to mold prospective leaders, the long-term benefits can have a profound effect on engagement throughout the company.
Since the term “engagement” has been adopted as an L&D buzzword to the point that it’s lost its original meaning, let’s use Tom Roth’s definition: “Engagement is the combination of the perception of changes and events happening around you, and the level of energy experienced. So, highly engaged people have a positive perception of changes going on around them and they put a high level of energy into their work and everything else they do.” [sic]
So how does leadership training contribute to engagement (or lack thereof)?
Leadership training affects the engagement of the leaders
Most employees become more engaged when they’re trained, and leaders are no exception. In fact, because “leadership” can be a vague concept, and because leadership best practices are constantly being improved, it’s essential to offer frequent training to keep new and ongoing leaders engaged in continuous improvement.
Leaders who receive the tools and resources to excel will do just that. They’ll become engrossed in applying what they learned from training to solve problems (and may even go out of their way to learn other skills to address scenarios not mentioned in the training). That’s engagement at its finest.
On the other hand, if leaders aren’t given the training they need, they might experience the agony of defeat. In other words, when a leader does their best but just doesn’t have what they need to succeed, they feel discouraged and, ultimately, disengaged.
Leadership training affects the engagement of the leaders’ direct reports
Have you ever heard the phrase “people don’t leave companies; they leave bosses?” It’s a testament to the fact that engagement often happens from the top down.
BlessingWhite comments that “the purpose of leadership is to excite others to exceptional performance.” When leaders are up to snuff, their direct reports are more engaged within the organization. For leaders create this kind of inspiration, they need training on communication and feedback, on the company’s mission and values, and perhaps even on the roles that their direct reports fulfill every day.
When leaders don’t have the skills to lead effectively, the engagement of their direct reports suffers—even to the point where those employees quit in disgust.
Leadership training affects the engagement of those who lead the leaders
Leadership training is often geared toward mid-level managers and department heads. Behind those leaders is another leader—a leader of leaders, if you will. This could be a division head, a vice president, or even a CEO.
This leader of leaders probably won’t be required to take the leadership training. However, in many cases they’re the person or one of the people who called for, created, or assigned the leadership training for everyone else. They experience a high level of engagement as they work to ensure the training is successful. As an additional benefit, their passion has a positive effect on those working both directly and indirectly below them.
With all these employees engaged because of leadership training, what happens? The company has fine leaders and avoids contributing to the hundreds of billions of dollars lost each year due to disengaged employees. It attracts top talent and performs even better than it did previously, and all because of a little leadership training.