What Specific Training Do You Suggest for Increasing Leadership Skills?

NOTE: I’m cross posting a PM College blog piece from Debbie Crawford from our recent webinar on the PM Skills Benchmark. –

What specific training efforts do you suggest for increasing leadership skills?

This is a great question, but one that does not have a “one size fits all” response. The first thing you need to do is decide what leadership looks like in your organization.

“Leadership” is one of those concepts that is extremely variable from organization to organization. In some contexts, it can mean showing bold, entrepreneurial behaviors; in others, knowing how to create a warm, supportive teaming environment. Still other companies simply need leaders to somewhat sternly ensure compliance with processes—for example, in situations where safety comes first. Defining what leadership means in the context of your organization is a critical first step in improving competency in this area.

What would such a definition look like? It needs to be precise. We think of leadership, like any other competency area, as being made up of three domains: knowledge, personal attributes, and demonstrated behaviors. So to define it, ask:

  • What knowledge do our leaders need to possess?
  • What personal attributes will help them succeed in the role?
  • What specific behaviors can we look for to determine if and when an individual is showing leadership?

Once you have defined leadership in context, review the roles where you expect people to take a leadership stance. The next step is to assess whether the people who presently fill those roles   have the requisite knowledge, attributes, and behaviors. Knowledge is relatively easy to measure or record. You may look at what education or certification individuals possess, along with their level and breadth of experience. Attributes and behaviors are trickier and are best assessed using a 360-degree  or similar evaluation to see if the individual’s workplace performance demonstrates them.

Once the performance gaps have been identified,  you need to establish a development plan, which should include some structured learning for knowledge, and some mentoring and coaching for the behaviors and performance.

Now at last we are back to your question: what training do I recommend? Well, based on the leadership profile for your organization, we have numerous options.

How to Lead a Team

  • 2 days
  • Team members, functional manager, customer, sponsor
  • Uses SDI; covers conflict and communications, especially with difficult people

Strategies for Effective Stakeholder Engagement

  • 2 days
  • Stakeholders and other team members
  • Uses Blake-Mouton Managerial; how to evaluate, analyze, prioritize stakeholders, determine expectations, communications plans

Managing Virtual Teams

  • 2 days
  • Virtual team
  • Managing all aspects of virtual teams, collaboration, structure, alignment, leadership

Managing Relationships for Project Success

  • 2 days
  • Stakeholders and team
  • Managing stakeholders, creating action plan, roles and responsibilities, difficult conversations

Managing Cross-Functional Teams

  • 2 days
  • Team Members only
  • Uses SDI to determine, manage and motivate when projects and good and when conflict occurs; team dynamics

Leadership in High-Performance Teams

  • 2 days
  • Workplace simulation on project team leadership
  • Based on Kouzes and Posner’s Leadership Challenge and Larson and LaFasto’s Teamwork; develop skill through simulation practice

PM College works with training clients to customize courses to fit the culture of your organization, and provide training experiences that deliver the competencies that make sense within your environment.

[Editor’s Note: Join Debbie next week as she discusses how to identify individual skill gaps and develop targeted training. Meanwhile, a full discussion of identifying requisite competencies can be found in our book, Optimizing Human Capital.]


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