Five Principles of Learning and Development for the Next Generation of Sales Leaders

Business moves at a rapid pace. With strategy and growth being important factors that differentiate between success and failure, it is vital for leaders in an organization to be well versed in those areas. This is also true for the next generation of sales leaders. They have to be able to learn as much as possible about their organization and leadership – skills that are found most often in seasoned executives.

While offering learning and development solutions for the next generation of leaders, there are a few specific principles:

1. Open the lines of communication. It is crucial to know the more technical aspects of your organization, but communication is vital for leaders in charge of a group. They have to keep everyone motivated, and by making personal connections and being vocal about expectations, these small things can help immensely for morale. Leaders who communicate effectively and listen actively will learn more while leading and earn the trust and loyalty of their team.
2. Develop analytical capabilities. By nurturing the analytical capabilities of a potential leader, it makes them far more likely to be innovative. They will become more open to developing new methods and will excel at synthesizing information to the best needs of their team and the organization as a whole.
3. Make learning a challenge. Learning is often successful when the student is challenged in some way. Knowing mistakes will happen along the way is important in any learning environment, as long as the student feels there is adequate support available to assist him or her in any bumps in the road. The right balance of challenge and support makes a valuable learning environment.
4. Connect action and reflection. Ensuring that your teaching methods for these next generation leaders are more reflective is important to making sure the information is retained. By reflecting on choices made instead of just executing, there is a greater understanding of the processes used to make solid decisions. Being told to do things without understanding why it is done that way is counterproductive. By using reflective teaching, it has proven to have a positive impact on productivity, strategic speed and overall business results.
5. Address attitudes and beliefs. No matter what is taught to an individual in a learning environment, the information offered will be digested differently. This is where attitudes and beliefs about their roles and the information taught come into play. To know if the learner has actually internalized the information presented to him or her, mental models or changes in attitude, should be assessed. This will drive their behavior long term and can be swayed depending on technology or the company culture, so it is important to teach the next generation of leaders in a way that serves their learning style and attitude! This will ensure they retain as much information as possible, regardless of other external factors.

There are many other aspects of the learning and development of our upcoming leaders, but in order to reap the biggest benefits, they must be fully immersed in a training program. Most will learn and flourish by being thrust into a role, but to ensure success, a well-developed program will help them learn aspects to the business that go further than hands-on learning. The future of our organizations relies on these up and coming leaders and they should be molded and trained accordingly!

To learn is to grow; and the best place to start growing is with our learning community. Ascendis Learning Connection showcases esteemed experts that will offer proven training methods to move your business forward. For more information on this topic or to continue this discussion with other executives, join the Ascendis Masterminds for Managers group on LinkedIn  and connect with us on Twitter at @DrakeAscendis.