By Stephanie Aanstoos
Learning is a process that never ends—you’ve probably heard this before. When it comes to management and leadership skills, this philosophy holds true. A person does not have to be born a leader to become one and with the appropriate training and understanding, anyone can become an effective leader.
Leadership training for management candidates or new managers is fundamentally important for the growth of your association and may be one of the most beneficial decisions you make as an association executive. The goal of training is to enhance, expand and tailor a candidate’s skill set to meet the needs of your association. Oftentimes, people have leadership and/or management skills learned from prior positions or degrees, but their knowledge is not specific to your association’s industry or structure. Not only that, but also best management practices evolve over time, increasing the benefit of leadership training across all levels of management.
Our company has more than 15 years of experience facilitating leadership training, and we have seen the resulting successes of training firsthand. The following list comprises the key components to any good leadership training course and the benefits for participants.
- Development. Participants gain practical knowledge directly applicable to their work environment and prepare to take on higher levels of responsibility. Through training, participants become ready for common leadership and management challenges. They begin the process of establishing a personal leadership development plan to address these issues. Different leadership styles work better for different people—individuals must identify their leadership strengths and weaknesses to help identify which leadership model is best.
- Communication. Leaders must be in constant communication with their team, which is why effective communication and people skills are so important. Participants learn strategies, tactics and skills to ensure they provide clear communication and direction as a manager. They develop effective ways to handle tough communication situations and an understanding that listening is the most important part of effective communication.
- Motivation. Understanding motivation is key for any leader to effectively manage staff or volunteers. Participants learn to avoid the blame game and use creative problem-solving techniques and identify opportunities to stop de-motivating and start motivating employees. They will be able to establish workplaces with less hassle, waste and conflict. When a manger understands what motivates their employers, they can empower them to grow.
- Ethics. While many think ethics may be a no-brainer, it is an important component to leadership training because leaders face many situations where there is no clear right and wrong. Participants identify personal and organizational values and define ethical conduct. They obtain tools to navigate “grey area” situations and review sample agency and professional society codes of conduct. After training, participants will understand legal implications of unethical conduct, the organization’s values and a stronger recognition of their core personal values.
The four key components above should be supplemented by areas of focus specific to the industry. For example, a leadership course for new association executives may include a section on ‘Hiring Challenges for Associations’ or ‘Increasing Membership Engagement.’
The desired outcome of leadership training is for participants to feel prepared for higher levels of management and equipped with a strong leadership strategy. The most important thing to remember is that a training course should serve as a starting point or continuation in the leadership development process, rather than a one-time event.