Leadership Development versus Leadership Training – Is there a difference?

December 2, 2011 Simon Leadership Development

When I introduce myself to people as a Leadership Development specialist one of the more common responses revolves around leadership training – “So you run leadership training?”, “What type of leadership training do you specialize in?”, “I really value leadership training” etc.

Is there really a difference between leadership training and leadership development? You bet there is and it is much more than an exercise in semantics.

Leadership training is a learning intervention. Usually it is a classroom based event although in recent years the term can also be applied to e-learning courses. And yes, as a Leadership Development specialist I do run classroom based learning interventions but there is much more to true leadership development than training courses.

Leadership development is a process of learning, application, experience and more learning. If you have read the ‘about’ page of this site you will have seen that I make the point that with over 25 years of experience in leadership and leadership development I know that I still have plenty more to learn. It’s not a process that ever ends because leadership is not an exact science, it is about understanding people and inspiring them to do great things – which is a lifetime of learning for even the most naturally gifted of leaders.

Leadership development should begin when someone is an individual contributor planning a career path of managing people or even, as an expert or professional leader without direct reports. Ideally, this development will continue right through until someone retires – it shouldn’t even stop when they become CEO.

During a leadership career, leadership development will include a number of interventions such as attending training courses, reading books and articles, coaching, receiving multi-perspective feedback, mentoring and peer learning activities. In addition to planned learning interventions leadership development will require application of this learning in practical situations together with the learning from experience and new situations that will occur throughout the leader’s career.

My role as a Leadership Development specialist is to facilitate all of the above. Sure, I do deliver some leadership training programs but I will also be involved in a number of other activities to ensure the leaders I work with have the very best opportunity to fulfill their potential.    

See you at the top :)
Simon

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