By Sam Robinson
This may be controversial. If you’re serious about wanting to change a group of people, you must create tension. And that’s despite the risk of some people feeling uncomfortable.
Leadership programs aren’t all the same. Some programs stick with people for years, create connections and friendships that weren’t there before, kick off self-reflection and improvement. Or they can feel shallow, false and wasteful. A good leadership program should support leaders to actually improve an organisation, its systems, and its people.
One thing that I know works is to make sure there is tension, or as I like to think of it, “positive discomfort”.
Provide challenges, the tools to work them out, and a lot of room to think and act. As humans, we are often geared to crave “the answer”, to abhor being confused, to want a prescription (“take this tablet x3 times a day for a month and you’ll be cured!”).
If a leadership program purports to provide “the answer,” you’ve been sold a dud. And it may be a very expensive, credible, and credentialed dud.
That’s because there are no easy answers when it comes to leadership. Humans are complex, we aren’t machines. What works is presenting a toolkit where a person gets to choose what to do when, time to reflect and try it out, stories and support, raw honesty, and a lot of courage.