The following is an excerpt from the book Leadership Brand: Developing Customer-Focused Leaders to Drive Performance and Build Lasting Value by Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood. Leadership Brand was published last September and has been on our best seller list several times. The book is the authors' six-step process to leadership brand--"a shared identity among your organization's leaders that differentiates what they can do from what your rivals' leaders can do.
Training Design and Methods: Enormous research has been done on how to train with impact. Here are some specific tips that will increase the impact of your investment in building leadership brand, as opposed to developing leaders:
- Offer an integrated model for the experience. We continue to see many training events as parades of stars, with each day or module taught by a thoughtful presenter (either outside faculty, line manager, or customer), then another module from another face, and then another. With little integration, each training module is an isolated event. Branded training requires an integrated message (what our leaders need to know and do to demonstrate a leadership brand consistent with a firm brand) that has distinct modules woven around the brand theme.
- Use a host of training pedagogies. Since adults learn differently from another, different methodologies can and should be used. A mix of lecture, small group discussion, written case studies, live case studies, action learning projects, team presentation, video snippets, technology-based learning, simulations, assessment tools, and so forth can be woven into the training experience to ensure that regardless of each participant's learning style, all will find some methods that work well. Bear in mind that with adult learners, the faculty should be talking about 60 or 70 percent of the time. If faculty allow their participation to fall below 50 percent of the talking time, participants are in a problem-solving session and wonder what the faculty add; if faculty do 85 percent or more of the talking, participants are more likely to be listening than internalizing what is taught.
- Design modules to follow the concept-illustration-action (C-I-A) rational. During a training experience, a host of modules may be woven around the integrated C-I-A theme. Each module should have a clear set of concepts. Concepts represent the research-based theory and principles that frame an issue, or just the commonsense ideas that clearly apply without rich theory and research. These concepts should align specifically with the firm's brand and how it relates to leadership brand. But with content, there must also be illustration, or examples of what others have done with the principles taught. The illustrations may be written case studies of successful (or unsuccessful) firms, live case studies (as when customers attend and share problems), or video cases. Whatever the choice, participants learn by seeing how ideas were actually implemented. Then application follows. Application generally reinforces ideas with personal impact as participants adapt the concepts and illustrations to their personal situation. With the use of C-I-A logic in each module, a personal understanding of the leadership brand begins to emerge that participants can understand, observe, and practice.
- Build recursive lessons (self-reflective and self-learning) into the training. The half-life of knowledge is getting increasingly shorter, so all concepts taught in training need to be analyzed and updated consistently. For example, when IBM CEO Lou Gerstner wanted to increase organization capabilities of speed and collaboration, he sponsored a training experience called Accelerating Change Together (ACT). The ACT process was designed to achieve a fast and collaborative approach to leading the business, with a focus on team-based action learning projects. Each team identified eight-, ten-, and twelve-week problems to solve, and then worked collaboratively to identify the right people in the world to solve each problem (and then give them eight, ten, or twelve weeks to solve it). As the teams went through this training experience, they continually unlearned and learned how to improve their projects. Getting an individual leader to understand and adapt a leadership brand may require that the leader be knowledgeable about what the brand requires and reflective about how well he currently lives the brand. Leadership brand is less likely to take hold when forced on individual leaders and more likely to take root when individual leaders experience it through both training and work experiences.