Training Leader or Manager?

I know a lot of companies get caught up in titles more than they spend time with the role, responsibilities and objectives.  Yet is there any real difference between a training manager and a training leader?

In my humble opinion, a manager is capable of managing projects and implementing solutions.  They manage people and processes to get things done.  A leader is one that can inspire and take people and ideas on a journey.  They can paint a clear picture or vision of the future and how we are going to get from point A to point B.  When it comes to the head of training, you need both sets of skills or you are going to fail, and fail badly.

A gifted training manager can evaluate a workplace challenge and match appropriate performance solutions to fix a problem.  Yet it is necessary to sell others on what you know deep down to be the best path to success.  This is where your leadership skills come into play.  This is why knowing the value you provide is only half of what you need, you also need to be able to articulate to others why they need to come onboard with you and join your support for the direction you are heading.

Some training managers believe their very existence and wonderful insight is all that is necessary, and when you team this up with managers that don’t connect the dots or even see value in the training function the lack of leadership skills in the training manager make for a double edge sword that is dull on both sides!  Dull, and not about to be sharpened anytime soon will make for a tough time cutting anything.  Things are going to get worse and not better.

Mentoring leadership skills in your line of work is about the only way to learn the visionary side of the job.  I wish there was a workshop, eLearning course or book to train training managers how to become training leaders, but at most, all they offer are ideas.  I thank my lucky stars for the excellent mentors I grew up with.  They worked under the same roof and I learned without even knowing it.  Because of them when I first became a training manager, I was also prepared to become a training leader too!


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