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Junior Leader Training -- White Stag Leadership Development

The Direct Approach

In most traditional or conventional training events, because of a lack of systematic programming, most of the emphasis is focused on attempts to change people's perception. Little time is usually allocated for practice and even less to measure changes in performance during the training situation.

The White Stag method puts a strong emphasis on individual and group participation and practice long to ensure sufficient habit-formation during the training situation. We also systematically evaluate the participants, staff, and the overall program. We take a direct approach to leadership development...

...rather than being some nebulous characteristic which one has to be born with, leadership can be defined as a set of competencies which can be learned. Some eighty aspects of knowledge, skills, and attitudes have been taken into account in our research which have been clustered into competencies. To sum it up, an understanding of the concepts described here has helped us to bring into focus that the acquisition of leadership competencies should occur by plan and design, rather than by accident. Although leaders may emerge—as they do today—as by-products of group processes, this is neither an economical nor an effective way of developing leadership.1

The key notion here is that these behaviors are skills that can be learned. Until the 1960s, it was assumed that leadership was something innate, a skill or ability people were born with. As charisma is sometimes thought of today, people assumed it was something natural, a characteristic people were born with, that they were lucky to have. It was not acquired or learned. If leadership was taught, it was taught using indirect methods, referring to those blessed with the luck of showing leadership traits, or by inference.2

White Stag does not depend on the blessings of birth or luck to define leadership. This "indirect" way of training for leadership is what the White Stag method challenges and transforms into a "direct approach." The skills of leadership are specifically described. Manager of Learning provides a design for producing in-depth learning.

The skills or competencies of leadership are fully described in The Eleven Skills of Leadership.