When you were an elementary school student, it was hard to imagine your teacher having a personal life. Similarly, sometimes as employees we forget that leaders are also humans (and sometimes they make that easy to forget). As a business owner or training manager, it’s your job to ensure that the humanization of business is executed from the top down, and the most effective way to create an effective, empathetic leader is to personalize his or her learning experience. With that in mind, here are three key ways to personalize learning for your leaders:
1) Focus on the listening skills. Being able to truly take in feedback or concerns from others is a top skill in a leader. Make this clear and important to your leaders in training by asking them for feedback consistently throughout the training period. Write down their comments, and repeat them back, adding in your own assessment. Then, flip the tables and ask them to assess feedback from other leaders in training. Having gone through the experience, they’ll understand how they want to be heard.
2) Teach them to be an advocate for optimism on the team. A good leader doesn’t dwell on the negative, but rather, motivates, serves as a coach, and guides the team to improvement. Personalize this by teaching leaders to look at a problem in multiple ways before addressing it, finding at least one positive aspect. After many rounds of this, they’ll find that the problems are easier to solve when framed in a more positive light, and they’ll carry that power to re-frame into their leadership role.
3) Make them a little uncomfortable. A good leader has learned true growth on their own. Give your leaders a new responsibility for another department or industry than they’re familiar with–such as ownership of an event, or delivery of a new report–and don’t provide full assistance. Allowing them to take responsibility, work towards a goal, and own their success will forge a strong sense of leadership and adequacy, and it will be organic for your leader in terms of internal growth.