The old proverb, “The shoe cobbler’s kids have no shoes,” applies very well to our profession. Many leaders of training organizations focus so much of their time and energy on making sure their constituents have the training they need, but they often neglect making sure their own staff has the training they need to be successful. Developing our next generation leaders of training is one of the most fundamental responsibilities we have as leaders of training. It ensures the hard work we are doing now to implement effective and efficient learning programs will be sustained over a long period of time.

In addition, it demonstrates to our client base that we are so in tune with the needs of training and development that we demonstrate best practices in our own shop. This is so important in communicating to our executive team that we understand the best practices of succession planning and we practice what we preach. But unfortunately, this is rarely the case – thus the analogy of the old proverb.

Training leadership is a valuable and noble profession that requires the knowledge of the fundamentals of learning. These fundamentals and principles come from more than 100 years of research by the world’s most notable psychologists in how adults best learn. Concepts like the forgetting curve, the spacing effect, the power of reinforcement, and coaching and mentoring are just a few of these contributions. These principles are the underlying drivers of new technology and innovation in our profession today.

And there are also valuable decision-making concepts that allow us to better understand how to manage a portfolio of learning programs. For example, there is the portfolio rationalization model that helps us understand what learning programs we are offering that are not in line with the needs of the business. And there is the 70-20-10 model (as well as an updated ratio referred to as the OSF ratio) that helps us understand how to balance the amount of structured, informal and on-the-job training we provide. And there are, of course, many more.

But one of the most important things we can do to develop next generation leaders of training is to be good leaders ourselves. Learn the principles of training management. Learn how to be a great mentor and coach of other training managers. Contribute to the profession by speaking and writing about your experiences and what you’ve learned along your journey in the training industry.

From where I sit, becoming a great leader of a training organization does not come through experience by itself. It requires the ongoing study of innovation and training through programs that teach the necessary practices and tools to be an effective training manager, such as the Certified Professional in Training Management (CPTM™) program. It requires being a student of the profession. It requires implementing best practices and resource management. It requires having an innovative mindset and challenging the status quo. It requires pushing boundaries and refusing to continue doing the same things the same way they’ve always been done. And yes, it does require experience through doing the job – but doing it in a deliberate way.

Good leaders of training organizations work very hard to ensure they meet the needs of the business. But great leaders also ensure their own team has the fundamental skills to manage the training they provide.