In a large organization such as the U.S. Army, quality leadership is an important facet that will help the U.S. Army have an edge its competition. However, quality leadership is not always just available. In order for an organization to build a strong foundation of leaders there needs to be some type leadership development plan. The quality of the development plan can have a direct correlation to the quality of leaders produced through that development plan. Education and training should be the major components of any development plan. Education and training are both very different, yet they are both needed for their own individual aspects of development. The best leaders will have the right ratio of educations and training.
Education is all about didactic learning, and may be learned from scratch or build on knowledge they one already possessed. For example, although one might be fluent in English, they will still have to take English courses in school. Education is strictly based on theory so practical application may not always be immediately possible. Many careers such law or medicine have mandatory period of practical training following education. The benefits of education are not always immediately evident. Education gives the leader a strong foundation for tools such as independent, or creative thinking, as well better understanding of known and unknown things. Education is designed to create and an adaptive leader for a dynamic environment. Education can be the base one which skills are built. Overall, education will aid a leader see the bigger picture, and give the leader the ability troubleshoot any problem, known or unknown, that the leader may come across. However, education can fall short when it comes to learning specific skills and tasks.
When it comes to performing specific task and skills, education can be useful by familiarizing the leader with what is going on, however training will provide specific instruction in order to master individual tasks. Training will enable the leader to perform a task rather than simply know about the task. Training is typically skill oriented. Training is often specific to the needs of a mission. With the vast number of training options, training can be very efficient and easily accessed. Training is also far more time effective than education. Training can also produce immediate benefits. However, even though training seems to be the ideal method of development, there key reasons training should not be used on its own. Training is great when standardized results are needed, however in an adaptive environment a merely trained leader will be in uncharted waters and have no solution to any problem that has deviated from the known. Training produced quick results, because it only shows the leader what to do, but it does now teach the lead how or why.
Obviously, a leader who can perform one task very well but fails to adapt to different tasks would be a horrendous leader, especial in today ever changing society. However, a leader that knows a lot about everything yet can’t put the knowledge to use is also no help to an organization. Therefore, the ideal method of developing a leader is to educate and train. For example, a paramedic goes to school for a long period of time. Initially the paramedic will learn various aspects of human anatomy, and physiology. Further education will build on previously learned information and teach the paramedic how various interventions will affect the patient and so on. Finally, the paramedic will be trained on a variety of skills, such as intravenous access, and intubations. The paramedic needs to then use the knowledge gained to properly assess a patient and based on the finding determine which intervention is necessary to fix whatever issue the patient has. Just like a paramedic, leaders should be well educated. A leader needs to know the basics, and continue to be educated to build on knowledge that has already been learned. Once the leader has a strong base of knowledge then training can help the leader put the knowledge to use in a practical way. Now, instead of becoming vapor locked when there is a change from the standard to which the leader has been trained, the leader can use critical thinking to adapt and overcome problems that arise. Development of the leader’s education and training should never stop. Continued education can broaden the leaders ability to problem solve, and further training can lead to better performance.
Having a well-educated and trained leader may not give an organization world changing moments, however they will contribute to everyday innovation. Leaders will be able to solve problems just before or after they occur, and figure out new ways to make the organization as a whole run more smoothly. When an organizations success rests on the quality of its leaders, development of those leaders should be the top priority because any other investment will become obsolete.
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