Are there any courses I can take to become a good leader, or do I just need to learn on the job?

There are many courses, but to truly develop as a leader takes time, experience, and learning from role models.


There is a 10/20/70 rule that applies to the development of leaders:

  • 10% of your development should come from formal training and courses. These are designed to deliver skills that can be immediately applied.
  • 20% of your development should come from education. This is designed to expose you to different ways of thinking and mental models that challenge your thinking.
  • 70% of your development should come from on the job experiences: working with role models; observing experts; being mentored; taking on a stretch assignment; and even taking on a whole new job.

Too often Australian managers fall into the trap of “developing” up-and-coming leaders by sending them on a training course.


This is where these emerging talents will gain the least development. It is fine for skill-building but not for leadership development.


Instead the opportunity must be taken to immerse emerging leaders in facets of the business such as:

  • project work;
  • cross-functional teams;
  • stretch assignments; and
  • opportunities to work with experts.

All of which will increase their credibility as emerging leaders, while it also builds on their “personal reference volume” to which they can refer when they come across a similar situation in the future.


This experiential learning equips aspiring leaders with a toolkit of experiences.


So, yes, do a course; and, yes, do a training program to build your skills. But do those for 30% of the available time.


For the remainder (70%), gain as much on the job experience as possible.


Along the way, as you nominate for this and volunteer for that and begin to demonstrate leadership qualities, you won’t do your reputation any harm at all!


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