Does Leadership Training Create Dependency?

By January 12, 2012 Leadership No Comments

This article explores the possibility of dependency in the leadership and development training dynamic between the leadership development coach and the client. Often, leadership coaches may give advice or have a strong bias of direction that creates a hidden reliance. So does leadership training create dependency?

This question is an interesting one as it has payoffs for both parties. The client feels a sense of security knowing that he has someone to call upon when wavering with any challenge. The leadership coach, by creating dependency, ensures that his client remains loyal and continuity of business ensured.

I’m not saying that this is always the case however I have seen it happen far too often for my liking. Surely the aim of leadership training is to create self reliance? A mentoring and leadership coaching job is well done when the leadership coach makes himself redundant!

At what point does the extent of guidance, questioning and suggestion need to stop, and at what point does the onus revert to the client? This has been question that mentoring and coaching professionals have been toying with for ages. To know the answer is to fully know the client’s understanding and knowledge of the issue at hand. It is easy to pass the buck to the leadership coach and it’s a lot more challenging to squeeze the answer out of the client.

Suggestions of encouraging the client beyond his comfort levels and challenging him to take calculated risks may start to bring some light to this question. Knowing the boundaries is crucial for the leadership coach as he walks the fine line between pushing too far and not far enough.

Egoless leadership training can shed another angle of thinking on the subject. When there is little ego in the mentoring and coaching dynamic there is no need to control, advise or be right. Naturally great results are imperative but there is a big distinction between ego attachment and achievements of leadership training and development outcomes.

Another point to consider is setting the mentoring and coaching agreements upfront. This involves the needs, expectations and promises that each party makes to the other. When this is clearly stated, the extent of possible dependencies that may occur will become obvious. If the expectation of the leadership coach is to be the oracle and help provide the necessary solutions, the result will be total reliance. If however the boundaries are clearly set as to the extent of mentoring and coaching, then the potential for dependency through the leadership training program is reduced.

I am also aware of the time pressures that leadership coaches are under and that results need to be achieved in short time frames. In cases like these, resilience and process explanation are invaluable in communicating to the client what is realistic and sustainable, thus reducing the chances of dependency in a training and development program.

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