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University College London

University College London (Photo credit: stevecadman)

We are discussing John Adair’s framework for developing leaders as described in his book ‘How to Grow Leaders.’ Adair’s fifth principle is about education for leadership.

Senior managers can take steps to develop and grow new team leaders. These may include selecting the right people, giving them training and providing them with chance to take on extra responsibility in the workplace.

There is a missing factor and Adair identifies this as the process of education for leadership:

‘Although the two overlap, often considerably, there is a useful distinction between training and education. The former focuses on the systematic development of skills with a specific role in mind. The latter is more to do with the whole person and encompasses areas such as values, attitudes, beliefs and ethics.’

I previously discussed an organisation that sends their new team leaders on a two-day course when they are first appointed to understand the principles of leadership and effective communication. Their approach to new team leader development is wider than this, however.

The organisation is in the emergency services and they encourage team leaders to train to deliver part of the service. For example, they may undertake a qualification that allows them to work with crews in emergency situations. This shows leaders what it is like in the ‘real world.’

In addition, the organisation works with a local university to deliver team leader education. Team leaders, who have started in their role, participate in a structured programme that takes some months to complete. The programme has formal teaching, case studies and discussions about things happening back in the office.

The benefit of the development is it brings new team leaders into contact with external parties outside their industry; people who work in other sectors and tutors who bring a different perspective on issues.

When I worked for a large bank some years ago, it was common to meet team leaders who were doing some work in their community as part of their development. I’m not sure that there is so much of this kind of development going on now. This may be due to the economic environment. It’s a shame as a range of external parties can give support.

In any event, companies should be mindful of the need to educate their new team leaders in the widest possible sense.

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