One recurring theme with clients is the challenge of embedding the training and development they have provided for leaders in an environment where there is always lots happening and many priorities to juggle. It seems like finding a way to embed learning and turning ‘knowing into doing’ is the silver bullet for many organisations. Hardly surprising given the time, money and energy that goes into creating and running development initiatives?
A big part of the solution is for leaders to take personal responsibility and accountability for doing something with the learning. There will always be reasons why it’s difficult to put things into practice – too much going on; no time to think or plan what needs to happen; ‘I’ll get to it once I’ve cleared these other things from my To Do list’ etc.
If you can relate to the above, perhaps it’s time for you to take some ownership, maybe become a little selfish, and permit yourself to give some time and attention to embedding the learning that will allow you to develop further in your leadership role.
Some elements that we have found beneficial in taking the theory from training and development initiatives and putting them into practice:
- Getting clear on your real purpose as a leader i.e. what you are intended to deliver as an outcome from your role and how you want to deliver that. Whatever field you are in, it is likely that your purpose will include elements of coaching, motivating, supporting, and developing your people. Based on your definition of your purpose, look critically at how you are spending your time to determine whether there are certain things you are doing that could be either stopped or delegated to others, freeing you up to implement your new learning, as well as doing some of the things you are not doing that would help you deliver your purpose.
- Buddying up with a colleague who has also been involved in some recent development / learning to coach and support each other (and hold each other’s feet to the fire when necessary) around the areas you are both looking to work on. Make some commitments to each other about what you will do, and when, and hold each other to these. If you have an external coach, look to use them to help you work out a plan of attack.
- Making a deal with yourself to STOP for just five minutes each week to reflect on what you are doing to move forward your ideas and learning. Often we are so caught up in the day to day we forget to simply pause and take a breath. In doing so you may actually realise that you are doing more than you give yourself credit for. This may renew your enthusiasm for making the changes, as you start to see positive effects.
- Looking for every opportunity to bring the new approach into your day to day practices – even if it feels a bit clunky to begin with. Remind yourself that you need to try things out and make a few mistakes before you build mastery. Make ‘Use it or lose it’ your maxim.
- Taking responsibility for doing something. Don’t wait to be told. Don’t keep looking for excuses. Remember how it made sense on the programme. Remember how excited you were about the possibilities. The only thing that’s holding you back from making the changes is likely to be yourself.
It’s time to stand up and be counted. Take the investment you and your company has made in the training and development and do something with it. Otherwise don’t be surprised when in a year’s time you’re back in the same place as before – complaining about how things could be!