Why pay me to train your leaders? Can't you just do it yourself?
Why do you pay me or any other expert or trainer to come into your organization? Can’t you just do it yourself? These are not rhetorical questions. This is an exercise I do from time to time to help me analyze my value in the market and if necessary, make adjustments to better serve my clients and attract prospects. It’s an exercise any leader can benefit from to get a clear picture of how effectively you are serving the needs of your people. I’ll walk you through it. It starts with a few brutally simple and focused questions: #1 WHAT do I do that my clients are unable or unwilling to do for themselves? I take what can be an extremely complex subject, leadership, and reduce current philosophy, technique and applications to simple sets of ideas that will help individuals and organizations implement best practices for effective leadership. #2 WHY can’t they do this for themselves? Some can. Most don’t. And most can’t do it as well as I can. The truth is some organizations have highly effective leadership training in place––and these are often my best clients.
My role is not to challenge, change or even offer suggestions for improvement in these cases. It’s to support, reinforce and nourish their already strong leadership culture. What I bring to them is an unbiased “outside” perspective. I’ve found these organizations are not only open, but actually more inclined to seek out my services. They know that the care and feeding of their leaders is an ongoing, ever-changing process and they already see the value in bringing in experts from outside their ranks. Others simply don’t have the time or financial resources to commit to the research, design and implementation of an effective leadership training process––at least not without a little help. While you are occupied with the very important technical aspects of managing an organization, I commit my time to research and study. I meet leaders and experts from a wide range of fields and experience to learn about what works and what doesn’t. I constantly seek out the most effective leadership philosophy and practice at any given time and spend a great deal of time matching these ideas and processes to particular organizations in specific situations. #3 WHY do you do it? For me it’s a deeply personal realization that supporting and developing leaders––and cultivating “leadership” at all levels is the most urgent and important task in front of us today. I’ve also realized that my passion, interests, talents, skills and abilities direct me toward one role: teacher. This is where I am most effective. This is where I bring the greatest value to others. #4 HOW do you it? By helping people become better leaders––and by helping leaders become better people. For me this involves writing, delivering content online and most of all, by personal appearances through speeches and workshops. There is no substitute for direct, person to person interaction. Fortunately, my favorite role is speaker and trainer. My passion is to inspire, engage and sometimes provoke thought and action on the part of individuals who are willing to commit to the responsibility of serving others as leaders––and organizations that understand the power of focusing on serving their people as the most effective means of creating a successful, strong and lasting organization. #4 HOW is this different than what anyone else is doing? There are others focused on the human aspects of leadership. I don’t see them as competitors, but rather as colleagues. Believe me, there’s enough work to go around! Having said that, there is still a great deal of inertia to overcome. We need to convert more experienced leaders to the idea that you lead people––not process. We need to support leaders who understand this and help them design process that develops and supports their people––as leaders at all levels of their organization and independent of titles or position.
What makes me different than most is an unwavering focus on the human aspects of leadership––developing the person as a means to more effective leadership. Unlike most in this field, I do not work on the technical aspects of “management” in any way, shape or form. I work solely on the person as “leader” and how to help individuals develop both as leaders and people. I am also different than most in that I don’t come in with edicts, rules or laws for effective leadership. Leadership is an ever-changing challenge and leaders must be adaptable, confident and comfortable with uncertainty. I engage my clients in the process of discovering leadership and shaping themselves as leaders in ways specific to their unique needs, goals and desires––and in ways that best support the vision of their organizations. Leadership is sharing. A leader shares. In that spirit I share my ever-evolving inventory of knowledge, strategy, practice and experience. Most of all, I share the timeless process of developing oneself as a person and as a leader. I don’t preach, command or lecture. I share. That completes the exercise––at least Part One!
I’ve shared my 2017 self-assessment exercise with you. Take some time to answer these simple questions for yourself. I restricted myself to one page––this keeps me focused on what is most essential. I highly recommend you do the same. Part Two is to take at least a few hours to reflect on my answers. I’ll challenge each statement in my mind and if necessary, I’ll modify or discard anything that isn’t on point. A few years ago a version of this exercise led me to an entirely new career adventure. This is how I went from operating a group of martial arts centers to becoming a speaker, author