5 Leadership Lessons from Peyton Manning

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Playoff time has arrived, my friends. Regardless of what team you might be rooting for, I don’t think anyone could argue that the Denver Broncos are having an impressive year. At the forefront of this franchise is the one and only Peyton Manning, QB extraordinaire.

You could say I’m a little bit of a Peyton Manning fan. I know I’m not alone. I live in Indianapolis, home of the Colts, where Manning led the team for well over a decade and brought our team back from near-obscurity.

But now he’s with the Broncos….sure, it was a sad day in Indy when he left, but I think a lot of Colts fans understood the succession-planning move by letting him go. And I’d have to say people are pretty pleased with the new kid on the line of scrimmage, Andrew Luck. (Sidenote: Did anyone see that Colts/Chiefs game the other night? What a win!)

andrew-luck-touchdown

But this one is about Peyton. Over the years, Peyton Manning has demonstrated impressive leadership qualities; both on and off the field.  Regardless of what your role is in the learning industry, or whether you are a even a football fan at all, there are 5 simple leadership lessons you can apply:

1. Know your craft, inside and out.

Who will go down in history as the “greatest QB of all time”?  There are a number of opinions on that one. But few players are students of the game like Peyton Manning. On the sidelines, you will see Peyton studying plays, reading the defense, anticipating what will happen next. Off the field, he watches film and studies his opponents to a degree that few match.

How well do you know your role? Your team? Your company? Your industry? Your customer? As learning professionals, I think we can all agree that there is always something to learn.

2. Be open to coaching and feedback.

I often wonder what a coach thinks about being Peyton Manning’s coach. Like a trainer leading a classroom full of SMEs, wondering, “What am I going to teach these people that they don’t already know?” But if you see Peyton on the sidelines with his coaches, you often see communication and dialogue. It’s a mutually respectful relationship.

Even after being in our field for many years, we should always be receptive to feedback – whether about how we facilitate, develop content or lead teams.

3. Don’t let setbacks or mistakes define you.

Peyton Manning will not go down in NFL history books, remembered for throwing the occasional interception. He won’t be remembered (negatively) for his neck injury, multiple surgeries or being released by the Colts. He will be remembered as a consistently impressive performer on the field. As a philanthropic member of his community. As an intelligent, well-spoken person who represented his team with class.

The point here? Even when your project or role doesn’t progress the way you anticipated, don’t let that define your career path. Learn from the mistakes and move past the setbacks.

4. Raise the bar.

Just like I wonder what it’s like to be Peyton Manning’s coach, I also wonder what it’s like to be a teammate. I mean – you’re out there with Peyton Manning. How does that NOT motivate a player to do his best?

How are you raising the bar on your team? Do you motivate others to do their best?

5. Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Let’s face it. He’s a funny guy. We cracked up watching him host Saturday Night Live, and he has been on more television commercials than I can list. The guy has a good sense of humor, and can poke a little fun at himself.

That’s important for a leader. Lighten up – have a little fun!

So whether you’re a facilitator, instructional designer or training manager…or maybe you’re not even in the learning field at all…consider these leadership lessons and what you can bring to your role, team and organization.

And while I’m certainly okay with Peyton and the Broncos doing well in the Playoffs, I must end with this:

Go Colts!!

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Breaking the Rules: Innovation and Interaction for Leadership Development Programs

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Note: This past Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending the fall conference for the Central Indiana chapter of the American Society for Training & Development (CIASTD). Not only was I able to attend, but I also had the honor of presenting.  This post is a recap of that session. If you attended this – my sincere thanks for spending a little time with me!

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that my style isn’t exactly conventional when it comes to learning. My career has been largely shaped by the opportunity of bringing learning experiences to the workplace, and I refuse to believe that those learning experiences have to “look” a certain way. As I began preparing the content for this session, my intent was to “represent myself” with phase(two)learning, rather than presenting on behalf of the day job.

You know, building brand awareness and all. :)

But I quickly realized my examples and talking points were coming directly from the new Leadership Development initiatives we have been implementing at the day job, and I was excited to share those, soooo…I just pulled double-duty on the representation.

The session title was “Breaking the Rules: Innovation & Interaction in Leadership Development Programs”. I was thrilled to see standing room only for the session! Conference attendees had several terrific topics to choose from during that time slot, so the fact that so many made the decision to spend a few minutes talking about Leadership Development was awesome.

Speaking of time slots…I was given the dreaded “right-after-lunch” time slot. When I saw the schedule a few weeks ago, this pretty much sums up my reaction:

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(Okay, maybe I just wanted an excuse to share a pic of my adorable nephew, Logan.)

Despite the less-than-ideal time slot, I am proud to report that noticeable yawning was minimal, and no one fell asleep.

Did you know that U.S. businesses spend over $170 billion-with-a-B per year on leadership-based curriculum? Much of this is spent on leadership training.

Those of us in the learning biz know that training, education, learning and development are all different things. But from this statistic, it’s clear that many, many people don’t realize the distinction.

We don’t always need to be training our leaders, but we do need to be developing them.

Training often focuses on best practices. Development should focus on next practices. What’s next for me? What’s next for our team? What’s next for our organization? What’s next for our customer? What’s next for our industry?

You get the idea.

Leadership development programs will vary, depending on culture, people, needs, etc. Regardless of the myriad of differences, successful leadership programs often share 3 qualities:

Learner Motivation – Participants WANT to be involved. They take ownership of their development and are motivated to discover what might be “next” in their career paths.

Program Quality – A well-planned program and engaging content is a must. There must be a long-term strategy, not an ad-hoc hodgepodge (yes, that’s the technical term. Hodgepodge.).

Manager Support – A participant’s direct manager needs to be involved in the process, from providing ongoing feedback, to coaching, to helping his/her emerging leader to build relationships up, down and across the organization. This also goes for upper-level managers and executives: They need to be engaged in the program, endorsing its value and simply getting involved.

During the session, I challenged attendees to brainstorm in teams how they could facilitate leaderhsip/learning with methods they were provided. Here are a few photos from flip charts they used to record their discussions:

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The slide deck from this session can be found here:

CIASTD session – Breaking the Rules

In the deck, you’ll find a number of other progressive ideas that we have recently implemented at the day job in our new leadership development program. If you have questions or would like to chat further about the, drop me a note or leave a comment below!

Did you know?! This session can be tailored and delivered for your organization, conference or retreat! Check out phasetwolearning.com for more information, or drop an email with your questions!

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In Learning, It’s Okay to be a Rule-Breaker

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. When it comes to developing learning programs, I’m a bit of a rule-breaker. There are smarties out there who have developed complex models on how adults learn, where adults learn and why we should follow these rules.  I respect them. And sure, they have merit. But the rigidity is where I’m left shaking my head. Every organization is unique. People, industries and priorities vary. How can we expect this one-size-fits-all approach to be effective?

Today, my mind goes to the humble training session.  Namely, mind-numbing training sessions, where PowerPoint reigns supreme. Tell me, how can a facilitator believe that spewing dozens of wordy slides at participants equates a learning experience?

Not long ago, I was talking to a colleague about this very topic. He told me about some creative things his team was doing, which sent my mind spinning. At the day job, we had been considering some “different” learning events to shake things up in our new leadership development program.  It left me thinking…

Who says we can’t do something different?

That “something different” meant hosting a leadership development discussion. Nothing new, right? Well…

We’re hosting it in a bar. A local brewpub, to be exact. Who says people can’t talk about leadership over some microbrews?

The proprietor of this brewpub will be joining us, and giving a brief talk about the evolution of their brand. Their commitment to their customers, particularly as advocates for their brand. Their involvement in the community. What their brand meant to him in the beginning…and what it means to him now. And then, we’ll draw some comparisons to our organization, and what lessons we can take back to our world.

I could easily gather a roomful of participants in the office, throw a few slides up on the screen, and talk leadership. Brand advocacy. Customer awareness. And we might have a pretty darn good discussion about it. But, a year from now, will those participants necessarily remember it? Maybe. But then, maybe not.

Will they remember the time the L&D team hosted Leadership Happy Hour, where we met at the brewpub and sampled some drinks and talked candidly about our brand? You betcha. Creating memorable, meaningful, relevant learning experiences is our job, friends. It’s okay to think outside the box and try something new.

Your turn: How do you facilitate meaningful learning experiences in your organization? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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