usage rights leadership photo

 

Over the years I have created numerous leadership training and development programs for a wide variety of organizations. While designing these learning opportunities I have debated with myself, with organizational leaders, with colleagues, and with the workshop participants themselves about one particular issue.  Is it best to keep leaders in workshops with others who are at a similar organizational level or is it best to deliver workshops to participants from a variety of organizational and experience levels.  Here are some reasons why either method could work, hence the continuing debate.  I recall during and after one leadership workshop asking the participants in the series of workshops what worked well and where the program could be improved.  Out of the same workshop (with about 25-30 participants) I had about a third of the participants say they wished there had not been mixed levels in the group, while another third expressed how much value and insight they gained from the mixed levels, and the remaining third commented on other areas of the workshop, but not about this concern. In this particular workshop there were emerging supervisors and managers with little experience, mid-level managers with many years of experience, and directors or executives with varying years of experience all in the same workshop.  Some of the leaders and emerging leaders said they had a difficult time relating to those who had far more or far less work experience, and they requested follow-up training or mastermind sessions with only the participants more similarly situated.  However, others commented about how valuable it was to hear the perspectives and opinions of those who were least like themselves. And at this point we were only talking about level within an organization or years of experience in a leadership role, so this doesn’t even account for all the other diverse backgrounds that were shared. Recently, I have been more inclined to mix the groups for an overall rich and diverse sharing of ideas, yet I have begun to include breakout sessions or breakout discussions that may be separated by level.  Another thing I have started doing is to facilitate mastermind groups that are composed of individuals more similar in experience and organizational level because they are more likely to be facing situations and challenges that can best be helped by those who are like-minded. So, this remains a question and I would love to hear what those who read this post have to say about it. Also, if you have a view on this subject please share what you have done in leading workshops, training sessions, or even facilitating meetings or breakout sessions.  Please share.