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Designing effective leadership training
The content of the leadership training can either focus on a sub-set of skills for particular tasks/situations or generic skills and behaviours. Effective training relies on effective design. Designing a training programme for developing leadership should be based on theories of both leadership and learning. Guidance for designing an effective leadership training programme includes (Yukl, 2005):
• Appropriate follow-up activities: Learning of complex skills should be enhanced by, for example, holding follow-up sessions at an appropriate interval after the training to review progress and problems.
Salas et al. (2002) suggest that skills training for team leaders should include:
Box 6.7 Training metacognition in naval combat information centre (CIC) officers
The training content of a metacognitive skills training course developed for naval CIC officers (Cohen et al., 1998) consisted of scenario-based exercises that used interactive simulation and feedback. The content of the training exercises included:
Feedback was provided by instructors in the form of hints throughout the scenario, as required, and by class discussion at the end of the exercise.
Studies with groups of five or six officers using this metacognitive training have shown that critical thinking skills can be taught and can improve decision-making processes as well as decision outcomes. These skills are important in tactical decision-making, as these skills help experienced decision-makers to handle uncertainty effectively. Critical thinking skills were also shown to be extended to teams by helping to provide team members with a shared mental model of the situation. Moreover, a shared metacognitive model of ongoing uncertainties was formed, which prompts team members to volunteer relevant information.
Although the trainees in this study were naval officers, this training strategy has also been used with Army battlefield command staff (Cohen et al., 1997a), and with Rotorcraft pilots (Cohen et al., 1997b).
Critical thinking skills, also known as metacognition, put simply could be defined as ‘thinking about thinking’. This refers to the skills that involve reflecting upon and regulating one’s own thinking, including memory, comprehension and performance (Flavell, 1979), and involves both explicit, conscious, factual knowledge as well as implicit, unconscious knowledge. Metacognitive skills describe awareness of the cognitive demands and specific strategies associated with different tasks. Cohen et al. (1998) comment that training of metacognition initially comprises a cognitive task analysis (see Chapter 9) to identify thinking strategies, ways of organising information and decisions. a syllabus can then be developed using information- based (e.g. lectures) and practice-based sessions (e.g. scenario-based exercises; see Box 6.7) to train leaders in metacognitive skills.
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