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The 70/20/10 Approach to Leadership Training: A Blueprint for Sticky Learning

Updated: Jun 20

Investing in leadership training is essential for organizational success. However, many

companies find that their investments in leadership development don't yield the expected

returns. The primary reason? Leaders often fail to retain and apply what they've learned. Enter the 70/20/10 approach to leadership training, a proven method designed to create "sticky" learning—learning that stays with leaders forever and translates into improved performance and organizational growth.


What is Sticky Learning?

Sticky learning refers to knowledge and skills that are not only retained but are also effectively applied in real-world situations. Unlike traditional training methods that often result in fleeting knowledge, sticky learning ensures that what leaders learn becomes a permanent part of their skill set. This approach is critical because it ensures that the time and money spent on training lead to tangible improvements in leadership capabilities.


The 70/20/10 Model: The Best Approach to Sticky Learning

The 70/20/10 model is renowned for its effectiveness in creating sticky learning. This model

divides the learning process into three components:

● 70% Application

● 20% Feedback

● 10% Formal Learning

This division is based on the amount of time spent in each learning activity, with a

recommended total of 10 hours per month dedicated to leadership training.


The Six-Month Sticky Learning Plan

For the 70/20/10 approach to be truly effective, it should be implemented over a period of six months. This duration allows for sustained learning, application, and feedback, ensuring that new skills and knowledge are fully integrated into the leader's daily routine.


10% Formal Learning

Formal learning accounts for 10% of the training process and typically includes workshops,

classes, instructional videos, and seminars. These structured learning environments provide

leaders with the foundational knowledge and theoretical understanding necessary to develop new skills. Over six months, leaders might attend various sessions covering topics such as strategic thinking, emotional intelligence, and effective communication.


70% Application

The majority of the learning—70%—comes from actually applying new skills in real-world

situations. This hands-on approach is crucial for sticky learning, as it allows leaders to practice and refine their abilities in the context of their everyday work. Leaders are encouraged to implement techniques and strategies learned during formal sessions, observe the outcomes, and adjust their approaches as needed.


20% Feedback

The remaining 20% of the learning process involves receiving feedback. This is an essential

component, as it helps leaders understand what is working and what needs improvement.

Feedback can come from various sources, including one-on-one sessions with a coach,

discussions with peers, and input from direct reports and managers. Regular feedback sessions ensure that leaders remain on track and continue to develop their skills effectively.


Cost and Investment

Implementing a sticky 70/20/10 leadership training program typically costs between $3,000 and $7,500 per leader for a six-month period. This investment covers the costs of formal learning sessions, coaching, and other resources necessary for effective application and feedback. While the cost may seem substantial, the return on investment in terms of improved leadership performance and organizational success is invaluable. In addition to the out-of-pocket costs, one must consider the leader’s time as part of the investment which typically dwarfs the monetary investment.


Conclusion

The 70/20/10 approach to leadership training is a highly effective method for creating sticky

learning. By dividing the learning process into 70% application, 20% feedback, and 10% formal learning, and spreading this over six months, organizations can ensure that their leaders not only retain but also effectively apply new skills. Investing in this model may require an upfront financial commitment, but the long-term benefits of having skilled, knowledgeable, and adaptable leaders are well worth the cost.


Organizations that adopt the 70/20/10 approach can look forward to a future where their

leadership training dollars are well spent, leading to lasting improvements in leadership quality and organizational success.


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