A common myth of leadership training is that it makes better leaders. Leaders learn from the facilitator, who knows everything about leadership, and leave the training with that facilitator’s knowledge, which then makes them better leaders.

What actually makes better leaders is a balance between provocation and practice, with a focus on the team. We need leadership training that is engaging – that moves, touches and inspires leaders. We need programs that inspire them to not focus on their becoming stronger, better, faster and smarter but to find ways to make everyone on their team stronger, better, faster and smarter. Good leadership training provokes this mindset and then provokes the leaders to practice it.


All leaders must understand that in order to hit a goal, they need to provoke each other. Provoking others is a shift in how leaders can accomplish objectives. The mindset of provocation is about who the leaders really are and how they work.

The problem with most leadership training is that it’s one trainer to many leaders. The one who “knows” about leadership shares the information that leads to success. In truly transformational leadership training, the trainer flips this concept: It’s not that the trainer makes the leaders better; it’s that the trainer provokes the leaders to commit to making each other better. It’s having a team of people committed to each other’s success, not the leadership trainer, that makes better leaders.

Practice: During Leadership Training

When leaders practice during leadership training, they are in a safe environment, where they can work on a variety of skills and strategies. The goal of practicing during training is to identify the skills each leader needs to practice after the leadership training.

Experiential learning techniques such as gamification and improv can help increase learning retention and give leaders specific actions that they can practice afterward. The practice needs to be uncomfortable it needs to have you be confronted and kind of feel a little bit stupid sometimes.


Gamification is a practice of turning real-life business situations into a simulation where it’s OK to make mistakes and learn from them. However, trainers must take care in choosing which game mechanics or simulations to use; many gamification projects fail due to poor design. Strategic, effective game-based simulations gives leadership trainers the answers to questions like these:

  • How engaged are the individuals on this team?
  • Are they focused on the success of the team, or their individual success?
  • How does this team work under pressure?
  • How does this team communicate?
  • How does this team share information?
  • How does this team use its resources?


Improv teaches a lot of leadership skills that learners can take into their everyday lives with their teams, including making other people look good, making it up as they go and embracing failure.

Practice: After the Leadership Training

Leadership training takes up a very small portion of most leaders’ time – if their company is dedicated to leadership training at all. For this reason, it’s the leaders’ dedication to best practices the rest of their time that will determine their success.

Focus on encouraging and celebrating the practices the leaders are using, or not using, outside training. Each failure provides an opportunity for growth and learning, and each success ensures that practices transform into habits, which then transform leaders. Instead of standing up and spitting out a bunch of statistics, theories or other information, training facilitators should ask learners what they are struggling with. Let them identify what they want to be practicing, and create a customized learning experience.