Choosing a Leadership Development Instructor


You’ve gotta love the topic of Leadership Development! There seems to be no end to the number of books and gurus trying to stake their claim of expertise or special insight. Due to this noise, choosing the right Leadership Development Instructor can be a confusing and complicated task. Making matters worse is that there are a number of sub-specialties, so one size simply does not fit all.

Without a doubt, Leadership Development is a very wise investment. However, choosing the right Leadership Development Instructor ultimately decides how successful your investment will be. No pressure!

Imagine someone who has never been through a Leadership course being tasked with choosing a Leadership Development Instructor for their individual or organizational Leadership needs. What if the person tasked with making such decisions confuses “Leadership” with “Management,” not knowing that the two couldn’t be further apart? What kind of instructor would they choose without having a place to start from? Would it be based on price or substance? This is why some programs will simply fail. I don’t want that to happen to you!

With so many options, how can you make sure you are selecting the best Practitioner or coach for you or your organization? Let me help! Here are three things that will help you choose the best option for you:

1. Customization

Start your search with one of two questions! Either “What do I want to be able to do?” or “What do I want the leaders in our organization to be able to do?” When you answer these, your search is already halfway over because you’ve discovered the question needed to ask a potential Leadership Instructor. Let’s say, for instance, that you need help learning how to empower workers to become more independent. Your question then becomes, “Can you help me empower people in my organization to become more independent workers?” Their answer will help you decide.

Next, find out what options the instructor provides. Remember that one size does not fit all, and even if an instructor lists only a few things on their website, the good ones usually have more. Understand that most Leadership Practitioners can’t list everything they can do for you, so ask them about their programs and ask them pointed questions. Do you get to ask questions during the program? Do you have opportunities for self-reflection and theoretical conversation? Is the program completed in a few hours or days, or can it be spread out if needed? Is there phone or email support?

Define what is important to you and ask your potential instructor about it. Don’t be timid about it, either. You are not expected to know everything walking into this, and they are prepared to answer your questions. Also, remember that the best Leadership Development programs put a lot of emphasis on ensuring that you’re going to be successful in applying what you’ve learned. Some level of customization will be expected.

2. Their Credentials

The discipline of “Leadership” is both an art and a science. Some get it and love it; some don’t. In my opinion, it takes years of study to understand the topic’s complexities and even more time to become a seasoned Practitioner. You need to understand that there are Leadership professionals out there that have rightfully dedicated their entire educational journey to the study of Leadership and that there are Leadership professionals out there that haven’t. Did their knowledge and insight come from a seminar, a two-week program, or a few books, or did it come from years of intense study and contemplation? When it comes to your personal or organizational Leadership needs, you may want to think twice about who you choose and why. Choosing those with the credentials you desire will ensure you’re not just buying a basic management program with a Leadership spin.

3. Direction

You’ve been taught how to be the best leader THEY wanted you to be; I’m going to teach you how to be the best leader YOU want to be.

Not many Leadership instructors can promise this, but some can. Some Leadership programs will guide you toward a particular Leadership philosophy, such as Servant Leadership, Transformational Leadership, or Authentic Leadership. This is fine if you are unsure about which style you are interested in or seeking to improve something specific. Such programs would also be good in a generalized setting where multiple people are being coached toward a particular organizational goal. However, while almost all great Leadership Practitioners can provide a generalized program for you, they will often individualize their programs to accentuate the positive Leadership skills you already have and to show you how to utilize your strengths and weaknesses to full effect. This is one of the many things that separate a coach from a practitioner.

The important part of this is not necessarily that the Practitioner will customize the program for you; it’s whether or not they can. Customizing such a program often demonstrates the ability to identify issues or make recommendations and adjust accordingly. Remember, you are hiring a professional to make you better; you wouldn’t want to place your health in the hands of a doctor that couldn’t customize a treatment to your specific needs; your Leadership instruction shouldn’t be any different.

Choosing your Leadership Development Instructor is a big decision. Having a few questions at the ready and a general idea of what you’re looking for will greatly aid in your selection. Regardless of whom you choose, know that even considering a Leadership Development Instructor is an awesome first step to self-empowerment. Well done!

You might also enjoy my article, “Can Leadership Development Really Work?

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