During the last five years of his corporate management career, leadership expert and author Victor Lipman had a great deal of leadership development. Along with many colleagues or peers, he attended talks by noted management authors, went to team-building exercises and participated in discussions on different leadership styles.
At the end of his corporate days, Lipman realized he’d received much more management training in the last five years than in the first 20 years combined. As a new manager, early in his career, he says he often had to learn by trial and error. The point he makes about his experience is this: New managers always can benefit from plenty of support.
Lipman mentions that it’s hard to find precise spending data on the amounts invested in management training (for supervisors and middle managers) and leadership development (for senior executives). Part of the reason is that the distinctions between the two types of training aren’t always clear —
“where exactly does management training end and leadership development begin? Some surveys seem to lump together technical skills training and classic management training. But, anecdotally, the consultants I’ve talked with agree that my own experience, heavily backloaded with training, is by no means unique.”
Knowing talent development budgets are often tight, we still can’t afford to overlook the junior managers who would most benefit from management knowledge. This is not to say that senior leadership development doesn’t have value, but the proportions seem out of balance.
A focus on leadership development is in no way surprising. As Lipman points out, “It’s far more stimulating to, say, examine productivity in China than to teach someone how to do an effective employee evaluation. It’s way more fascinating to discuss disruptive innovation than to talk about how to run a meeting that doesn’t drive attendees crazy. But both skill levels are necessary. Without a cadre of well-trained foot soldiers, generals will always have problems. Without solid shop-floor management, operations grind slowly.”
Another very interesting point to consider is this: training being centered on those who are most experienced isn’t perhaps very efficient. Later in their careers, most senior managers are pretty set in their ways, whether that those are good or bad. New managers, however, are just finding and developing their own leadership styles. Hence, they’re possibly more open for suggestive guidance and management tools.
What do you think?