Today I had lunch with a colleague who does sales training for a living. During the conversation we got into the issue of having to try to convince prospects that there are inherent benefits to the types of training that we offer and why those who are in charge of possibly setting these types of things up are reluctant to pull the trigger.

His thought was that these folks worry more about how things will reflect on them than on how it may or may not benefit their employees. The belief is that, at least for sales training, you might be seen as admitting that your own training programs don't work, or that you're not as effective a trainer or motivator as someone from the outside might be.

In some ways I could see where he was coming from with his beliefs. I thought back to when I was a director at this one facility where I pretty much had to start from scratch by replacing 60% of the department and then had to think about how to best get everyone trained. There were a lot of things I knew and was able to handle which really got things going in a positive direction. On that front I wouldn't have wanted someone from the outside coming and messing up what I'd started.

At the same time, however, I knew my limitations. I was at a new hospital that was out of my general area, and there were some things I wasn't close to familiar with. The masses think an insurance company is an insurance company. In some ways they're correct, but in others processes change, and when you're hoping to get paid you want to be as thorough on the rules as you can be. When you're hoping to get up to speed quickly there's nothing like having the people who actually have full knowledge of the processes to come in and assist with the training.

That's what I did. I contacted representatives of all the insurances and asked them if they'd come to train my employees on all aspects of what they needed to know. Medicare at the time actually sent 3 different people 3 different times to help us out, and I was able to bring people from other departments to sit in on the training so they could learn what their responsibilities in the process were.

Leadership is like that. Every company knows it has leadership issues. Most would rather just let the status quo go on because of fear; yes, I said it. People are always afraid to upset the apple cart in some fashion, and leadership training does exactly that sort of thing. It teaches people how to be responsible. It teaches them how to interact with others, especially their employees. It teaches them processes of how to get work and projects done. Overall it teaches them how to be more independent thinkers, because really the process of leadership that no one talks about that's most important is "thinking".

The military doesn't want troops that think; it wants troops that act. Officers are for thinking, as are the highest ranked non-coms. If everyone was thinking it might be harder to control them, to get them to do what's necessarily because the thinkers came up with it, not because a soldier, thinking independently, decided they didn't believe what they were about to do was right.

Some business leaders believe that as well; some of them might have been in the military. They want to make sure everyone knows the chain of command and their role in it. They'll tend to stifle originality more often than encourage it, whether it's from management or employees. Many are reluctant to truly empower someone else to make decisions, for fear of how it'll affect the status quo.

The truth is that those companies that have the best trained leaders and the wherewithal to allow employees to make decisions on their own have the highest rankings when it comes to both customer service surveys and employee satisfaction. When leaders aren't afraid to show their employees how to do everything they know how to do and as well as they can do it, it allows their employees to work better and allows managers to concentrate on other things to make both their departments and the organization better in some way.

When people know that their actions will be supported because they did the best they could, and often improved on the process, they'll continue shooting for the top; people love being praised and recognized for their work. As a matter of fact, 79% of people that leave organizations that do exit interviews say that one of the reasons they're leaving is because they didn't feel appreciated for the work they did.

So, if leadership training can improve your bottom line, can improve the morale of your employees, and can improve your overall processes, why aren't you doing leadership training? Oh yeah; I do leadership training. 😉