It Takes Three Whats to Make Leadership Training Last

Leadership Intimacy: Give the Man a Fish Already!
January 19, 2015
Playfulness: The power of play in the workplace
February 2, 2015

The question is often asked, Why do so many leadership development initiatives fail? The answer involves three more questions. What? So what? and Now What?

I’ve never heard of leadership training that failed to convey worthwhile information. So the failure is never about what is taught or what is learned. I don’t think any leadership development trainer serves up false information. Nor have I met a leader who doesn’t know enough about leadership.

3 whats redIn Why So Many Leadership Programs Ultimately Fail, Peter Bregman correctly declares that leaders must be willing to take on the discomfort, risk, and uncertainty of doing what they have learned. But even before they face the challenge of mustering up the courage to act, leaders need an absolutely clear appreciation for the value of what they have learned plus a clear plan of action.

Questions of Sustainability

Learning followed by understanding followed by action is the formula for sustainable leadership training. The results can be well worth the investment—research promises up to 529 percent. Another study promises a 53 percent improvement in productivity.

Here are three questions that will help get you there:

1. What?
Immediately upon learning anything worth doing, you should ask yourself, What did I learn? What new perspectives, conditions, and leadership needs have I become aware of?

It has been determined that 80 percent of learning fades unless you make a conscious effort to keep what you have learned in focus. Your old routines driven by the demands of your day-to-day responsibilities will swallow you up as soon as you return from training. Unless you make a concerted effort to burn what you’ve just learned by into your top-of-mind by revisiting it in a disciplined way on a regular basis.

2. So What?
Next you must ask, What impact will this learning have on me, my team, and my company?

You will lose appreciation for what you’ve learned unless you connect the learning to what you want as a leader—for yourself, your team, and your organization with your Leadership Learning Plan.

Learning just for the pleasure of learning is great, but knowledge won’t take you where you want to go. You have to pin what you now know to who you want to be as a leader and how you intend to lead your team and your organization.

3. Now What?
Now you can ask about action with the question, What am I going to do differently to change what needs to be changed?

I go into detail about the steps you need to take to ensure sustainability in 4 Ways Not to Fall Into the Training-Do Gap. In brief, they are:

  1. Make a Plan
  2. Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
  3. Implement a Process
  4. Be held Accountable

Whether you take leadership training with Align4Profit or join a leadership workshop elsewhere, make sure you get the most out of your learning experience by focusing on the three questions above. For more on sustainability in leadership training, have a look at Align4Profit Learning Methodology.


Helanie Scott
Helanie Scott
Helanie (pronounced yeh-LAH-nee) Scott, CEO and founder of Align4Profit in Dallas, Texas, has driven stunning leadership and cultural transformations for an impressive list of organizations. She has mastered the ability to connect with her audiences in the boardroom, classroom, on stage, or in one-on-one coaching sessions. Helanie’s Align4Profit clients rave at the way her engaging programs freshen outdated mindsets and deliver results-oriented, aligned action.