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A Foolproof Way to Train Your Team (#121)

The Confident Leader

Sean’s team was failing to fully comprehend all the details of the dynamic business he founded. This issue was resulting in poor performance. Our conversation revealed that he was teaching his team, but he was only using one approach. Sean’s slight adjustment changed everything.

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
— Benjamin Franklin (Founding Father of the United States)

This Week’s Edition

Not everyone learns the same way, and not everyone’s teaching method has the same effectiveness. What improvements can you make to increase your team’s knowledge retention?

Clarify Your Thinking

Sean started his business and grew it successfully mainly due to performing every job in the company and mastering each of them. 

To scale, he hired smart individuals. While they peformed well early on, they stalled in their progress. Sean was taking the time to teach them, but it didn’t seem as if anything was sticking. Sean’s sole approach was verbal instruction. He had mastered telling them what to do.

As a result the momentum of the company slowed, and his high-potential, yet under-performing team, slipped into the habit of simply completing tasks versus truly solving challenges in a strategic manner

Sean’s leadership scenario is not unique. Leaders who ascend through the ranks, primarily as a result of honing their expertise in the business, are befuddled when their team doesn’t learn and grow at the pace to which the leader believes they are capable.

This situation can cause leaders to question their team and their own leadership. If those questions are not resolved and persist they can plant seeds of doubt.

Old Thinking: My team isn’t getting it. What’s wrong with them? I may need to replace them. But, this is the second or third round of talent. Will it be different next time?

New Thinking: My team is smart. Something is not clicking. My approach to teaching them is not sticking. Maybe I can change my approach and increase their retention and ultimate problem solving skills.

Thoughts Lead to Actions

When I first began my coaching firm, I wanted to make sure that my approach to helping leaders develop was as effective as possible.

I discovered the Learning Pyramid. It was revolutionary information. Come to find out lecture mode, telling people information, only generates a 5% retention, while other learning modes produce better results:

  • Demonstration increases retention to 30%,

  • Discussion to 50%,

  • Practicing to 75% and

  • Teaching others to 90%.

I am certain that how we were taught information influences how we as leaders teach our teams. If that method was primarily lecture as received in secondary and higher eduction, we may need to expand and adjust our approach

Upon reviewing the Learning Pyramid, Sean radically changed his approach to teaching, training and coaching his team:

  1. Instead of just talking to them, Sean invited his team to watch him do his tasks. He modeled what it looked like (30% retention).

  2. Instead of telling people the solution, Sean hosted discussions with a socratic approach, ask vs. tell. Often he knew the answer, but he took time to listen and facilitate the process to solve the problem (50% retention).

  3. He trusted his team by putting the challenges to be solved directly into their hands. He trained them in low stakes safe environments where they could fail and learn by doing (75% retention).

  4. Then, he stopped “teaching” and asked his team to teach their peers (90% retention).

Boost Your Performance

Within weeks, Sean’s team was renewed, energized if not a little hesitant and challenged. Find out the rest of the story in this week’s video.

What’s Your Opinion?

What’s your most effective mode of helping your team retain their knowledge? Let me know at

If you are going to be a leader, you might as well be a good one. Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

We live to make bad leadership extinct so forward this newsletter to others who strive to be confident leaders. 

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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