Team-Building Tools: Breaking Down Barriers With Leadership Training Activities
Making employees more aware of what leadership entails by involving them in leadership training activities removes the mystique of leadership and helps create an environment that allows others to develop their leadership potential. Involving the wider organization in leadership activities allows you to develop talent and realize potential. Training employees to be leaders helps establish a leadership pathway and pipeline and inspires innovation and engagement at all levels.
Participation in leadership training activities removes barriers between leaders and their employees. Such initiatives help build and strengthen teams. The links that these activities create facilitate collaboration and promote decision-taking and self-belief. That combination of independent initiative within a team structure is particularly critical when teams face the dislocation of working in different offices in different countries or, increasingly, remotely and in isolation.
A lot of leadership training concentrates on teaching communication and soft skills. Rightly there’s a concentration on active listening, developing emotional intelligence, and displaying empathy. This focus on interaction and understanding is designed to bring a closer connection between leaders and those they lead.
Leadership training for employees extends the concept and practice of leadership by encouraging employees to play an active leadership role regardless of their position in the organization. Leadership then becomes something that everyone has a stake in. A formed, functioning dialogue is established where employees and leaders exchange ideas with and learn from each other. This is active, democratic, and transparent leadership that trades on the benefits of openness and mutual understanding, and respect to encourage teamwork and boost performance.
The days of going away for team-building exercises were numbered even before we had to adhere to the rules on social distancing. Cost and the sheer difficulty of bringing widely dispersed teams together saw to that. Now remoteness is the norm and we have to find new methods to bring and train people together.
There are a number of activities and strategies we can employ to bring leaders and employees together and promote leadership.
1. Opening Up Leadership Training
The first step to delivering leadership training activities for employees is to open it up to them and establish the principle that leadership training is valuable for all. Whether you concentrate on broad areas like communication or more role-specific topics like project management you need to create learning that embraces a wide audience.
And extending access to leadership training is not just about granting permission to take leadership courses. How and when you can access training directly impacts its effectiveness. Digital learning initiatives using LMSs or LXPs using mobile connectivity combined with a just-in-time, microlearning strategy can facilitate greater access to training and bring it into the workflow. This approach means you can reach people no matter how distant or remote. The inclusivity of digital learning underlines the message that leadership training can be accessible to all.
2. Role-Plays And Simulations
The employees who participate in leadership training activities may not work in a leadership role. This makes it vital they be given the sense of what it is to be a leader and what in practice they would do when they are asked to take on a leadership role. Role-plays and simulated activities help give a better sense of what it means to be a leader. In law firms, they often create mock trials to prepare for the real thing. A more generic role play involves creating a mock project and assigning leadership and management roles within it gives the employee first-hand experience of the pressures and challenges of the real thing, but with the comfort of being able to fail safely.
E-learning simulations too allow learners to pit and hone their skills in challenges that replicate real-world environments with the security of anonymity and the ability to learn from mistakes without any damaging, real-world consequences.
Team building means establishing working relationships between employees and leaders. One way to do that is to have a mentoring program that pairs a more experienced peer with a newer employee. This can work well at the onboarding stage and also in leadership development. The mentor can actively impart learning as well as act as a sounding board for ideas and initiatives. In times when employees are working at a greater distance from one another that personal connection is more important than ever in employee development.
But mentoring need not be a uniquely human activity. The rise of chatbots and the increasing use of recommender systems in learning platforms means employees can receive virtual support and mentorship in their digital leadership training.
4. Games And Gamification
The away-days of a previous era often consisted of a series of outdoor challenges to build team spirit. That use of games to help understanding, test character, and cement collaboration can be replicated in non-physical and virtual ways. Activities can range from the virtual ‘pub’ quiz to Minecraft competitions to story-telling events, as well as more informal team (these days, virtual) gatherings for coffee or pizza. All are designed to build connections and trust.
That game element can be deliberately introduced into the leadership training program. Gamification is one of the most engaging features of e-learning. Learners enjoy the competitive element where learning activities lead to rewards like points, badges, and certificates. Competition can be widened from individual targets to group challenges played out on a digital leadership board.
5. Building A Leadership Training Culture
All these types of leadership activity can be combined in a longer-term strategy to build an environment that promotes and sustains leadership training activities for employees. To support that culture requires the buy-in of key stakeholders including HR who will need to make time for training to take place and encourage personal responsibility for career development.
Ultimately you want to foster a growth mindset among your employees, so they view leadership training as an intrinsic part of their work. They then put into practice what they’ve learned for the benefit not only of their own careers but also for the performance of the team and the wider organization.
Leadership In The Age Of Remote Teams
Extending leadership training to include employees can improve levels of communication, creativity, and problem-solving across the organization. Leadership training activities encourage personal responsibility and self-belief and give people the skills to work better together. These activities enhance efficiency and productivity.
Most of all extending leadership training to employees helps them better relate to their peers and their managers. This is particularly valuable in an age of distant and remote working that places working relationships under particular strain. The inclusivity of a leadership training program for employees helps build the structure and the ties that keep teams together when centrifugal forces such as geography, environment, and technological disruption threaten to force them apart.
Leadership training activities for employees, by contrast, works to overcome barriers, build bridges and forge new relationships to the benefit of all involved.
Download the eBook Leadership Training: How To Equip Leaders For Today’s Challenges And The Future to prepare your leadership team for what’s to come and build a successful culture of learning.