How the Boss does the Training

“Why don’t I hire a training company to teach managers critical thinking?  The answer is simple: The lesson sticks better when the CEO teaches it.”

Dave Rothacker has a post over on Joyful Jubilant Learning which thoughtfully considers how a culture of learning comes to fruition in a business. Dave says knowledge must be valued, and he ends with saying,

“Combine intent with content, add discipline and surround it with interested associates and you have a culture of learning.”

If only it were that simple. (Not that disciplined intention is simple!)

Ironically, with all it takes to run a successful, sustainable business, that “content” part of Dave’s quote proves to be what’s most elusive. We tend to focus on teaching the tasks that keep us repeating the same things we’ve always done, and so no wonder most CEOs don’t teach those things; if they repeat doing them, they probably won’t maintain their edge. And they’d probably be bored in the teaching, because they’re over it!

What they need to teach instead, is the kind of content that may have never happened yet. They need to teach concepts like generating change instead of adapting to it, and how to defy conventional wisdom in the creation of new insight.

Dave nails it in his example: CEOs need to teach everyone else in the company how they THINK.

For instance, there is that ability a great CEO innately has with looking ever forward. Can they explain how they project into the future, and why they keep doing it? Can they explain the scenarios that keep them up at night? Can they explain why they will never be satisfied, and why that is a very good thing that they won’t?

The most interesting and useful “content” a CEO can teach is what they instinctively do; that “critical thinking” piece. It is something that the best teachers and educators in the world struggle to teach daily when the best they can do is try to inspire someone to actually do it, and thus experience it.

A culture of learning takes way more than smartly designed lesson plans in company classrooms. It takes CEOs brave enough to push the decision-making that counts into every active mind employed in a company. It takes CEOs brash enough to demand consistently nimble execution of those decision, and CEOs tenacious enough to hold people accountable.

That would be training in the real stuff that matters each day, and that would rock.