Transformational Learning Takes More than a Video

There is an ongoing struggle in leadership development. Executives want high quality training for their leaders, but struggle with down time and scaling across the system. Here’s what often happens:

1. Employee engagement survey indicates weak leadership

2. Enlightened senior leaders know the importance of leadership development; they tell the Organizational Development (or HR) people to implement a program by a specific date

3. OD considers options to build their own or outsource

4. OD conducts search and vets options

5. Decision-makers determine best options take too much time

6. Decision-makers select the solution that will satisfy administration and meet the deadline

7. Program is delivered and the box is checked

This is the check-the-box method for implementing a leadership development program and is rarely effective. The real question is: Did the training produce behavior changes that impact the organization?

Transformational Leadership Development

Organizations that want transformation must be willing to view leadership development not as a single transaction, but as a transformative process. Real transformation will not happen with a 20-minute video. Adult learners need to acquire and apply skills, then get feedback in order to adopt new behaviors that will impact organizational performance.

The Kirkpatrick Model is a widely accepted model for evaluating learning effectiveness. Kirkpatrick’s four levels are: reaction, learning, behavioral change, and organizational performance.

The entire reason senior executives include leadership development in the strategic plan is because they want to improve organizational performance. The problem is, they don’t invest the time needed to achieve the 4th level, which is moving the lessons into the behavioral change that impacts organizational performance levels.

Set Goals

Before deciding on a leadership development “program” it is vital to set specific, measurable goals. What do you want to achieve? How will the training make the organization better? How will you know you have been successful?

The question asked most frequently today is: Can transformational learning be achieved virtually? The answer is: Yes. We have found that adults learn through online platforms, but that is typically only level two in the Kirkpatrick scale. When combined with coaching and feedback, it shifts to behavioral change with organizational impact.

This is the rationale behind the blended learning approach used in Be the Leader Nobody Wants to Leave – 8 Transformational Skill-Builders for Busy Leaders. Participants learn content, then discuss and apply skills. This is followed by group coaching and private coaching, which provides individual feedback.

In addition, prior to launching Be the Leader, Baird Group meets with leaders to understand the overarching goals and how success will be measured. We then provide senior leaders with weekly talking points to help reinforce the learning and support leaders in their goals.

A single video does not prepare me to run a marathon. I may learn fundamentals about what to do, but that won’t get me any closer to success. I have to apply what I learn and change my behavior from being a couch potato to running daily. If I really want to improve, I’d hire a coach who can give me feedback and encouragement. I’d measure my success by tracking my times and pushing for improvement. That is what will produce meaningful and lasting change.

Is your leadership development strategy transformative or are you checking a box?

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