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Leadership Training Conference Style


I am currently involved in the design and development of leadership training and am looking to do something different to the classic residential 3-5 day training course. Thoughts have centred on providing a 3 day (residential) conference style approach, where through prior self assessment, guidance and coaching, participants decide which sessions they will attend. Sessions will be repeated over the three days depending on demand (which would be known prior to the event). Has anyone else tried this approach with Leadership or any other type of training? If so, what worked and why, what didn't work and why and what are the things that I need to watch out for?
Hope you can help

lindsay rich

3 Responses

  1. why stop there?
    Hi Lindsay
    You say you are looking at something other than the classic 3-5 day residential and you are considering a three day residential conference style.

    Why not go for something really different?
    Have you considered a non residential, non consecutive days approach?

    Why not go for a blended learning approach with some activity coming outside the residential days?

    If you go with your current thoughts have you considered how you can ensure that delegates get the maximum benefit by actually doing the self assessment beforehand (rather than looking at it on the train on the way there!)?

    Can your leadership actually be away for three consecutive days or will you have to provide swathes of KIT time/facilities?

    Who is going to have the kudos to deliver the sessions on a conference style event, and how much will that cost? Or could you actually task delegates to reseach and deliver different facets as a learning exercise in itself?

    Hope this helps

  2. leadership development
    Further to Russell’s comments, I’d say that an essential starting point would be for each participant (as past of the self-assessment perhaps) to out,ine something like a learning contract. It would include

    • “what I need to know about, learn and understand to develop myself as a leader”
    • “what’s the best way for me to learn each of those things”
    • “What would be the observable difference in my leadership if I’d learned those things”

    That would be a useful first day, done before the rest of the program,with some serious pre-work. They could work on their own, in pairs, get feedback and so on. That wouild make it possible to design the inputs or workshops that you’re thinking of later on. And it would put them more in the driving seat, and more ready for coaching or mentoring. They could also plan for other ways of learning such as going and talking to leaders whose style they admire, reading useful books, trying things out in the workplace and reflecting on them, doing critical incident analysis and other things, for themselves or with a ‘buddy’

  3. Variations on a theme
    What Joanna and Russell have suggested are commendable but not particularly original. I suspect that most management trainers have tried the various options over the years ranging from the’classic’ residential or non-residential short course to a mini conference to a blended solution to a modular programme to ‘sound bites’ sessions. Personally I think that you need to look at what matches your company culture best and what the management team feel are the most important issues/skills gaps in the business or needs of their managers.
    With regards to your specific query, I have run the type of event you describe in the past and have listed some thoughts in no particular order:
    * The topics – As you indicated, ask for suggestions and then circulate a list for people to select before the event. If you leave the selection open ended, you may have a problem finding a speaker or trainer. I always used a mix of compulsory and elected sessions.
    * Anticipate that people will either not send in a return or forget what they asked to go on so have something at registration.
    * Do not assume that everyone will have done the pre-programme preparation. How will you handle someone who has not? If you have a monitored computer based system, you will know in advance and be able to tell them not to attend.
    * Length of session – do the timings match the topics?
    * The trainers/speakers – is one person thought of more highly than another? Sessions may end up loaded because the participants want to go to a particular trainer or speaker. Others may struggle to find a quorum. This often happens on repeats when word gets round that something is really interesting or boring.
    * Breaks between sessions – usually needed for people to find the room, go to the loo, etc. and yes they will get coffee more often and make phone calls that hold them up.
    * For training records purposes and/or QA, you should ensure that participants sign off an attendance sheet at each session, unless it does not matter to you.
    * Use a good guest speaker or the MD/Director for the final session to all participants.
    Hope this helps. Good luck.


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