When writing, experts will often tell authors not to lecture their audience, not to tell them. One has to guide the reader through, illustrating the points by showing. All the great authors and writers excel in how they engage and guide.
It is no different in leadership development except too much is expected from online training or experts talking of what is entailed in leadership.
Leadership needs to be understood. It can’t always be taught from a book or from a lecture. It’s about understanding something deeper. Michael Barton, chief constable of Durham, has said: “I would give every person in this country a year of national service. But this would be national service with a difference. For 12 months, people would have to become entrepreneurs, use their initiative, solve problems and learn how to fail.” Is this innovative and correct?
How little of leadership or management training is focused on actual experience – experience that tests character away from the workplace?
There are a number of great courses that take candidates outside their comfort zones and challenge their ability to adapt, be resourceful and to cope. There is almost a mental challenge of teaching emerging talent what it means to run a business, be responsible for others, to be accountable; how to influence, to be socially skilled.
Taking Michael Barton’s thought process a step further, it would be interesting to create teams, from different companies – almost as in The Apprentice – and give real life challenges. This would test what leadership means.
Over the years, Hospitality has produced a whole number of exceptional leaders; none more so that during the great recessions of the 1970s, 80s and 90s – from Lord Forte through to Sir Francis McKay to Bob Payton to Terry Holmes to those of the modern era. Often these characters did not fit a stereotype or a manual. They did things their own way, in their own manner but with results, with humour and with care.
It is no point arguing that leaders are not breaking through or that talent is not developing as hoped; it is about actions… and showing.