The term “leadership development” is everywhere these days; you can’t escape it. Corporations embrace it while educational institutions market an array of related classes and seminars on their websites. There is certainly no shortage of literature on the subject, and leadership coaches have become a sought-after entity.
I can’t say our organization hasn’t bought in. Most recently, we enlisted Steve Adubato to keynote one of our meetings. We also handed out a copy of his newest book, “Lessons in Leadership.” Steve was outstanding as he delivered a unique and powerful experience. The audience left having been exposed to new ideas on leadership.
Driving home from the event, I felt quite satisfied with the interaction I had witnessed, but I quickly turned to wondering what the next step was. After all, we provided some useful tools that night, but if we do not deliver an arena where they can be used in practice, does the knowledge slip away? I enjoy the classroom experience, and the concept of embracing new knowledge is something I’ve always been drawn to. However, is the classroom truly the best place to teach leadership?
Leadership should happen on every tier of an organization; there is value in developing individuals who are willing to facilitate positive change. Too often, the term leadership gets associated with the person in charge and doesn’t flow seamlessly across the entire spectrum of an institution. To me, the term leadership is fluid.; it evolves with each and every stakeholder involved. One theory on leadership does not suit every situation, nor does it fit every organization. In short, there is not necessarily one correct model of leadership.
Leadership development programs need to constantly be reviewed and critiqued in the field. We should be able to reflect on the positive and the negative to navigate down a path that best cultivates leaders in that particular climate. Leadership development is a process that is built on trust. Programs like mentoring do not work without both equal and respected input on both sides of the equation.
At Local 102, we will continue to bring new leadership training options to the table; I certainly do not want to dismiss the importance of the traditional classroom or lecture setting and the value of being exposed to new concepts. What we have realized is that the best leadership lessons are learned at work, where the interaction is. It is where we take what we have gathered in theory and put it to practical use.
As leaders, we need to create a mindset within our organizations that cultivates leadership at all levels, and promotes an environment that encourages honest feedback. Most importantly, with all the lessons and training we provide, it is incumbent upon us to provide a space where individuals can exercise those concepts because leadership development happens on the job!
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