Taking Steps Toward Leadership–The trainer

Yesterday, we talked about the Teacher role to help you learn leadership.  The assumption of the teacher is that you’ve never led before and you want information.  She will assess you and find out what you DO know and go from there.  She has the information and you don’t until she gives it to you or shows you where to get it.  Teachers give you a process to help you grow in leadership.

Today, we will talk about the Trainer.  In athletics, they watch your form, the effort it takes, and compare the results to an ideal.  They will correct an incorrect hand position on a back swing for golf.  They will correct posture on the balance beam.  They will correct foot placement for passing with a quarterback.  They look for injuries that may cause an imbalance and result in compensating behavior that has a negative effect on performance.

They do the same thing when working with a leader.  There is an ideal in mind and they are trying to help you conform to this ideal leader.  In essence, they assume you know something about what you’re doing, but you’re probably doing it wrong.  If this trainer is a leader, then the ideal he’s conforming you to is himself.  He will assume that how you deal with your followers is the same way he deals with his.  This might be perfect for you in your situation.  It might not.  I knew a leader who had a very competitive finance business.  He would bring in his people early in the morning and turn up the Rocky music, and cheer and yell and jump around to get them excited about what they were going to do for the rest of the day.  He was training a new leader in a different department, and this new leader saw the camaraderie and the energy of this department and decided it was just what he needed with his group.  The IT department was less than amused or inspired and wanted to throw him out the window.

It is important that if you think you need a trainer, you choose one that has experience in your area, and is successful at getting the results you are looking for.  In the illustration above, the new leader should have chosen a trainer who had worked in the IT department with success.  The trainer should actually watch you in your environment and offer suggestions and observations.  There are times when what you describe to your trainer is not what is really happening.  They should see for themselves.

Trainers, then, tweak your process to improve your results.

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