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5 Ways to Train Executives

5 Ways to Train Executives

Do you have an executive training program?

Dan McCarthy | Great Leadership

May 14, 2010

Designing and implementing an executive education program is not for the inexperienced or faint hearted. What’s so different about executives? Wouldn’t universal training and learning principles apply to them as well as anyone? To some degree, yes. However, I’d recommend being aware of and paying attention to the following differences:

1. Pace

Generally, executives are very intelligent and can absorb A LOT of complex information very quickly. They also have the attention span of fleas. They have to. Take a look at the typical daily schedule of an executive. Their day is an endless parade of meetings, bouncing around from one topic to another. Most of these meetings involve quickly absorbing information that others have spent weeks or months preparing, and they are expected to make decisions and provide direction. You can’t take a group of individuals out of this kind of environment and expect them to slow down and reflect for endless hours at a time. A few may try to help you out by frantically waving their hand in a circular motion, as if to say “come on, pick it up!”

2. Content

Content needs to be sophisticated, provocative, fresh, and VERY relevant to your business and industry. Executives need to see how what they are being asked to consider will help them accomplish their business objectives. While there may be some that might have a natural sense of intellectual curiosity, most will need to the immediate business relevance or they will tune out. You’ll know this right away when the iPhones and Droids start appearing. They have NO patience for their time being wasted, and will not be shy about letting you know. Why should they? Add up the cost of the hourly salaries for a room full of executives, and you’ll understand why.

3. Competition

Executives are, in general, a competitive bunch. Forget what you were taught about the importance of establishing “a safe learning environment”. They are also – again, in general – very quick to assess and judge.

4. Autonomy

Executives don’t need to be, nor do they like to be told what to do. They are used to making their own decisions and have a high degree of autonomy. They don’t need to be spoon-fed and are used to making up their own rules.

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