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In most companies you start off working as an employee, after you have proven your worth or if you have stayed at the company for a long time, then you are granted the keys to the mythical world of “leadership training.” It’s here where you actually learn to…lead.
In his book, “Principles of Scientific Management (1911), Frederick Winslow Taylor, a mechanical engineer by trade who became obsessed with improving efficiency, wrote.
Now one of the very first requirements for a man who is fit to handle pig iron as a regular occupation is that he shall be so stupid and so phlegmatic that he more nearly resembles in his mental make-up the ox than any other type. The man who is mentally alert and intelligent is for this very reason entirely unsuited to what would, for him, be the grinding monotony of work of this character. Therefore the workman who is best suited to handling pig iron is unable to understand the real science of doing this class of work. He is so stupid that the word “percentage” has no meaning to him, and he must consequently be trained by a man more intelligent than himself into the habit of working in accordance with the laws of this science before he can be successful.
Simply put, this means workers are not that smart or capable and therefore need to be trained by someone who is smarter and more capable than they are, aka, the manager.
Leadership was once viewed as the responsibility of a select few people who metaphorically and figuratively sat at the top of their organizations. However, over the years we have seen organizations become larger, more networked, distributed, and where we collectively are spending more time doing work with our minds instead of with our hands – shifting from manual to intellectual work.
In my last book, The Future Leader, I discovered that most people become leaders at some point in their early 20’s. Perhaps you’re leading a small team in a corporate headquarters or maybe you’re a supervisor in a retail store. However, these same people don’t get any formal leadership training until their mid to late 30’s and sometimes not even until their early 40’s!
I was recently speaking at a large organization with 500 leaders in attendance. I asked them how many of them received formal leadership training when they first got into their leadership roles. MAYBE a dozen hands went up in that entire room of 500.
There’s an old joke where the CFO goes up the CEO and says “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?” to which the CEO responds with “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”
Why wouldn’t you want everyone at your company to have leadership training?
In the rest of the article I’ll go over the business case for why ALL employees at your company should get leadership training