Training your whole group in leadership at first seems like an over investment in training where it isn’t needed. However, new research in the emergency services departments and in corporate groups show that training your whole team in leadership skills results in higher success rates being achieved during training exercises and actual events.
Traditionally, training for leadership was given only to those who would be in a position to give instructions on the ground. It was not given to those higher up the ranks who were strategic decision makers, nor was it given to the workers whose primary role was to be the ‘grunt on the ground’. This was because a clear distinction was made between who ‘should’ be leading and those who were not. However, if you look at each of these three groups, we can see why the modern approach of training the whole team in leadership benefits outcomes.
We now know that in times of stress those who end up with others looking to them for leadership are not necessarily those who have been appointed the leadership role. Many times, a ‘natural’ leader will emerge and the group will shift their social focus to that person to give orders. When this happens the appointed leader either joins the group in looking to the new person for leadership or tries to cause factions to ensure their own position is upheld. Neither of these situations is ideal. The first fails because the ‘natural’ leader has not had any training in how to keep the group moving towards the common goal, and they are lacking information on protocol, safety procedures, availability of resources and access to the decision makers. And the last, factions, directly opposes cohesive achievement.
If the decision makers back in the office or the command centre have not had leadership training they will not know the realistic expectations they can put on their leaders. Leading a group after a few rough nights in a tent with next to no comfort, building stress and a changing environment needs to be understood by those who are giving orders. These factors have a real bearing on how long you can expect a group to take to reach a goal, how many members need to be assigned to a task and the types of resources that need to be assigned to the task.
As for the ‘grunt on the ground’ needing leadership training, we have all probably been in a situation ourselves where we are not authorised to make a decision, may not have all the facts at hand but find ourselves having to because the opportunity to turn to someone for instruction is no longer possible. The situation has changed, we find ourselves with a group of three or four people and a strategy needs to be agreed on. Often when people find themselves in this position, they will be reluctant to step into the leadership role because they fear repercussions that may impact their jobs and respect in the workplace.
This new understanding of how leadership actually happens in the field has leading forward-thinking corporates and government organisations to switch their leadership training to include the whole team, usually in a situation that can mimic the stress and demands of a real situation. Training camps away from the workplace are most popular. This is because they can reset the current hierarchy and put the group on a more even footing. Individuals flourish and the group dynamic becomes positive. Good trainers take advantage of this and put groups together to help up-skill individuals and highlight key areas where the group needs work on maintaining high standards of leadership.
Many teams, after engaging in a camp styled, group training exercise, comment on how much they learned not only about themselves and what they are capable of but how much an effect their own actions have on the group and how they now know that to be an effective group member they must have a grasp of what a leader needs to function for the success of the group, whether they are appointed as one or not.
Fire Rescue and First Response are a training provider that focus on leadership training with two camps available and staffed by ex-army, fire fighters, emergency services staff and two kind cooks!”