It might come as a surprise to say that trainers within an organization succeed with the same mindset and the same skills as the leaders of the organization. After all, leaders are the strategic, big-picture thinkers at the top of the organization. They have influence over people and the entire organization.
Trainers, on the other hand, focus on finding the most effective and efficient way to deliver information, facilitate change and develop employees. Their work is laser-focused on the needs, perspective, and, let’s face it, the reluctance of individual learners. Successful trainers know that the work they do often feels like an interruption to the learner’s work day.
As a result, trainers apply strong leadership strategies and skills. They just apply them in a narrower field than the people at the top.
- Effective leaders do not give orders, they influence and guide. While the people at the top of the organization have the authority to give orders, good leaders choose not to do so. They know that it’s important to listen, understand, and guide their teams. Trainers, of course, lack the power to give orders in the first place. They approach the process in the same way that leaders do. Effective trainers get to know learners and their needs. They respect each learner’s perspective on the learning process and find ways to make whatever is being taught relevant and important to everyone. This type of leadership is not easy. It requires aligning the goals of the organization (met in part by the learning goals of a particular class) with the needs of each learner, all the while keeping a sharp eye on the needs of the other learners in the room.
- Leaders earn trust. Without trust, leaders cannot lead. Just as without trust, trainers fail. Good trainers know that their success is determined by how learners feel about what’s happening in the classroom. The trainer may be delivering the most necessary training content in the world, but if the process of learning it feels inefficient or irrelevant, learners will lose trust in the trainer and disengage. As a result, a successful trainer takes nothing for granted, adapts when necessary, and respects learner impatience and skepticism.
- Leaders welcome critical thinking. Successful leaders do not surround themselves with “yes” people. They know that the success of the organization demands input, reasoned resistance, and discussion. In the same way, trainers seek out questions, confusion and doubt. Learning won’t take place without unearthing and dealing with whatever learners do not understand or find questionable. Good trainers are confident enough to know that being challenged is not a threat.
If you’re a trainer, always remember that your job plays a crucial business function and that your success—which, as all leaders know, is never guaranteed—depends on solid leadership. If you’re a business leader, don’t forget that good trainers possess skills and talents very much akin to your own.