Guila Muir

Developing trainers, presenters and facilitators to make a difference

When Leaders Train: How to Avoid the Pitfalls

by Guila Muir

Why don’t all leaders make great trainers? Perhaps it’s because they believe that training falls outside their (already large) job descriptions. As a result, leaders often strive to “cover the material” in order to get on with business.

Yet the ability to facilitate learning, not just to cover the material, is an essential leadership skill.

“Acquitting Oneself” vs. Facilitating Learning
To acquit means “to release from duty or obligation;” or to get off the hook. Leaders most often acquit themselves by simply covering the material. They do this by lecturing, even though evidence shows that participants forget 50% of a lecture in just 20 minutes.

For leaders who want to competently facilitate learning, I offer these tips.

1. Hook your students.

In the few minutes of class, you must:

  • Excite: Demonstrate your own excitement about, and commitment to, your topic.
  • Involve: Ask a relevant question to get participants’ hands up, refer to a recent critical incident, or deliver an interactive quiz.
  • Inform: State the training’s purpose clearly. Succinctly describe how the participants will benefit from the training.

2. Make it Active.

Include small-group work using case studies, skill practice, or other problem-solving exercises. Honor your participants by supporting interaction.

3. Design a conscious closure.
Always build in several minutes at the end to test participants’ knowledge and skills. This ensures accountability-both your participants’ and your own.

Leaders, challenge yourselves to deliver vibrant, compelling learning opportunities. Forget about “acquitting yourself,” and  include great training as part of your job description.

© Guila Muir.


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