We have been discussing the lack of development newly appointed team leaders often receive. John Adair writes about this in his book ‘How to Grow Leaders.’ Adair describes a framework that can be used to strengthen the level of team leader development.
Adair is clear that ‘an organisation should never give a team leader role to someone without training.’ He goes on to comment about how much training to give newly appointed team leaders:
‘The answer is not much. All that such nominated operational leaders need before they take up the appointments is the opportunity to recalibrate: that is, to widen the diameter of their thinking about leadership and to relate it to the specific needs of the organisation at this juncture of time.’
There are few reasons to train newly appointed internal team leaders in the technical aspects of their role. In most cases they will have the knowledge needed and can easily fill in any gaps. There will be some advanced administration tasks or similar responsibilities, but these are learnt quickly in the workplace.
An organisation, which I grew to know well in the emergency services sector, has an effective approach to training for newly appointed team leaders.
Initially, new team leaders go on a short course; two-days over a month. The days concentrate on leadership, leadership styles, and effective communication. Attendees discuss the vision and values of the organisation and there are plenty of opportunities for team problem solving and role plays.
The days are productive and a good starting point.
All of the new team leaders have worked in the dispatch and call taking functions which gives them a good understanding of the technical aspects of the role. More training is given by a local university, although this is held back until a few months into the role.
Adair recommends that anyone looking at their own team leader training should take an inventory of what is in place. Managers doing such an inventory may find a blurred picture on how effective any training is; particularly if they think hard about what is really required in the team leader role and whether what they have in place supports this and the stage at which any development takes place.