Powerful Tools for Self-Leadership
“Learning Leadership: Our Approach to Training” by Joe Brodnicki
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LEAD A TRAINING?
I encounter so many trainers who prefer to keep their emotional distance from their learners. While they would never admit it, they say things like, “I really don’t want to hear what they think about their work or their lives. That’s just a waste of time;” or “I just need to get in there, keep them entertained and tell them what they need to know.” Their “stage” separates them from their learners and they neither care for, nor cultivate much engagement among themselves, their learners, and their content.
WHY IS LEARNING LEADERSHIP IMPORTANT?
In transitioning from the present state of the participant’s knowledge and skills to the desired state, we like to begin with outcomes. The outcomes go beyond training objectives. Building learner awareness around the objectives and their value ups the ante and unleashes motivation to make the desired change that the training content requires. The real value lies in putting the skills and knowledge to good use. To get there, a trainer needs to facilitate the learner’s journey starting with their problems (the things that get in the way) and then surfacing and dealing with the problems’ symptoms and causes. Now, the trainer has set the stage to supply and unleash the resources and techniques to bridge the gap between present and desired states of the participants.
Training becomes a do-with process. The trainer and the group pass through the gap together in a dynamic set of processes. A learning leader helps participants encounter their reality and create value. Yet, training often fails to provide much value. I was in a training seminar on training evaluation when one presenter, Robert Brinkerhoff, dropped a bomb on group. He explained that, in his years of experience and research, in most corporate training only 20% of the attendees get any real value. By real value, he meant that these people learned the material and had success in using it to make a positive difference in their work or lives.
Think about that. Most training is a waste of time; resources (both training costs and salary) make very little real difference once everyone walks out the door. How do we change these numbers and lead our groups through the gap?
HOW WE ADD VALUE TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN OUR TRAININGS
We set some frames to achieve this:
Frame Number One: The participant defines and creates the value criteria. The clearer each participant, and maybe even the whole group, is on their value criteria, the more successful the training will be. It is never enough to ask the participants to write down their expectations. Quite often, we get people who are not quite sure of what the training offers or, even, why they are there in the first place.
Frame Two: Outframe the training. Whether we are doing a corporate or public training, we take our event from “just another training” to something special, We may have the participants create frames that reflect variations of Robert Dilts’ vision “of creating a world worth belonging to.” We might begin with questions like:
“What would it be like if you created a life where you were ready to jump out of bed each morning and do something that matters?”
“What would it be like for you were better able to handle the challenges of the job and be a leader who makes a real difference?”
If we are dealing with a group who does not feel like they really can make a difference. We may first, set a frame of “You may not totally buy into the idea, but start with an attitude of anything is possible. Perhaps this training will give you the chance to identify and overcome a few of the barriers that get in the way of making even a little progress.”
If they are having trouble with buying into that idea, then we might start by asking the group the future pace questions and discuss the answers like these: “Can you make a difference?” and “What would happen if you chose to make a difference?” This is a risky intervention from group dynamics standpoint, but the choice as a learning leader is to ask the tough questions or deal with a group in which many of the people do not see a value to the training.
Frame Three: We Abdicate our throne, putting our ego on the shelf, and accept the learners’ world just as it is. Like me, you may have run across some trainers who stopped pursuing excellence and became legends in their own mind. Quite likely, they do not make a lot of contact with their groups’ world and do not hold their groups in nearly as high regard as they hold themselves. They embody the “Sage on the stage” frame. They are the keepers the knowledge and the “secrets,” and the group is dependent on them to show them the light. Abraham Maslow wrote that,
“If we want to be helpers, counselors, therapists, teachers, guides, or psychotherapists, what we must do is to accept the person, and help him learn what kind of person he is already, what is his style, what are his aptitudes, what is he good for, not good for, what can we build upon, what are his good raw materials, his good potentialities.” (From: Maslow, Abraham (1970) Motivation and Personality quoted in Hall, L. Michael, The Crucible and the Fires of Change, page 170.)
Here are some ideas adapted from The Crucible and the Fires of Change that I have found useful in connecting with group members:
- Cultivate the sense of curiosity and pure awareness that enable the participants to discover their potential to decide what is truly valuable to them, and then supply the means to help them realize that value.
- Accept what we get from the group without judgement. Acknowledge them neutrally, authentically, and honestly. We can still hold standards and speak honestly without creating a “love puddle” of blind endorsement.
Pascal Gambardella, PhD, ACMC, NLP/Neuro-Semantic Trainer
Pascal is a licensed Neuro-Semantic Trainer, and an Associate Certified Meta-Coach (ACMC). As a trainer he is known for his humor and his ability to explain complex ideas. He works within many disciplines and enjoys applying what he learns in one discipline to another. Professionally, he is a master modeler, who has modeled physical phenomena, satellite motion, and the behavior of people, organizations, and corporations. He is President of Emerging Perspectives LLC. He is former President of the Institute of Neuro-Semantics USA, an association of all licensed Neuro-Semantic trainers in the USA and Canada.
He is co-author of the book: “Systemic Coaching: Coaching the Whole Person with Meta-Coaching” (Hall, Gambardella, 2012), and contributed chapters and clarifying diagrams, concept maps, and mind maps to may Neuro-Semantic books. He co-chairs the Psychology and Human Behavior Special Interest Group (SIG) of the System Dynamics Society. Within the System Dynamics community he is involved in exploring ways of incorporating psychological and sociological variables in computer simulations, and applying system dynamics to teaching history.
He holds a PhD in Physics (1977) from SUNY at Stony Brook, and a more recent Master’s Degree in System Dynamics (2011) from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland USA (near Washington DC). He holds coaching credentials from the Meta-Coach Foundation. He received his certification as a Neuro-Semantic/NLP trainer in 2004.
In 2014, he retired from Computer Sciences Corporation after a 37 year career as a scientist, senior business architect, and corporate methodologist. While at CSC, he worked on contracts for many government agencies, including NASA, IRS, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Department of Defense.
Joe Brodnicki, ACMC, ACC, NLP/Neuro-Semantic Trainer
Joe has worked in the public and private sector to help his clients achieve the results that are important to them while adding to their personal satisfaction with their careers and personal lives. During his time with the federal government, he received numerous commendations for his contributions to Reinventing Government, building partnership, and creating powerful teams.
Both Joe’s coaching and training clients appreciate his ability to support and challenge them in areas that are important to them while bringing a sense of humor and playfulness to the process.
Joe first received his certification as an NLP trainer in 2004 and added a license in as a Neuro-Semantic/NLP trainer. He also holds coaching credentials from the International Coach Federation and the Meta-Coach Foundation.