I’m often asked how I got into leadership and management development.
Well, to be honest I sort of fell into it.
Initially I thought when I was starting my career I would get a degree in Public Health but when I was doing my undergraduate thesis I was working with hospitals in Tanzania and I found that the challenges they faced in delivering quality health care were more than often due to a lack of basic leadership and management skills.
So my interests shifted and my career took a very different path. A journey which led me first into healthcare management and later to establishing Mbele Consult where I provide leadership training and coaching to senior and mid-level managers and leaders across multiple sectors.
Reflecting back on my journey as a trainer and coach, I share below the top 3 things I have learned about learning and development that now define how I work.
1. We learn best by applying what we learn to real life situations
Research out of the Centre for Creative Leadership looked at how people got good at their jobs and found that 70% of what they know and what they know how to do was learnt experientially (eg. on the job, through trial and error); 20% somebody had shown them how to do (eg. coaching or mentoring) and 10% was through classroom training.
Why am I, a leadership trainer and coach, telling you this? Seems like that would be shooting myself in the foot…
Well, the reason is that I design all my training and coaching sessions with this “70-30-10 rule” in mind. I intentionally build in ways to involve you either by linking the learning to your past experiences or applying what you’re learning to real life situations you are currently facing in your workplace.
2. We grow more when we are positively challenged
We all learn better, perform better and achieve better results when we are positively challenged.
“Challenging you” is the backbone of everything I do, whether conducting a group training or coaching an individual.
It is all about challenging you to dream and strive for bigger and better; to stretch and push yourself a little more; to dig a little deeper; to think out of the box; to take more risks and to engage more intentionally with others.
Facing a big challenge with no feedback or support can however, be overwhelming and is often a recipe for failure. Too much feedback leads to frustration and too much support makes you dependent and complacent.
You need a fine balance between challenge, feedback and support to create a positive development process. All my programs are designed to ensure this balance, with built-in mechanisms for regular feedback and support.
3. We develop and expand our horizons through social interactions
Learning is an active, not passive process. Therefore, one of the best ways to learn is through engagement and discussions with others.
“You learn something every day if you pay attention.”
- Ray LeBlond
By being exposed to different perspectives, you are better able to reflect on your own limitations which result in deeper understanding and application of new concepts and ideas. Engaging with others also develops your listening skills and your ability to articulate and defend a position confidently, thoughtfully and respectfully; all of which in themselves are critical leadership skills.
Whether conducting a face to face or an online training program, all my sessions use participatory approaches and include breakout sessions that allow for meaningful dialogue and interaction.
My parting thoughts...
Simply providing learning and development opportunities alone does not guarantee that an individual or organisation will be more effective or productive.
The leadership skills acquired need to be transferred into the workplace to make a difference. I always keep this end goal in mind as I design, deliver and monitor my training and coaching programs.