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Leadership Development

3 Essential Components of Reinforcement to Keep Learning Alive

Bundles of rebar for reinforcement of concrete at construction site

Here's how to make learning a daily practice with post-program reinforcement resources

We’ve all experienced great events or programs that challenge and enlighten us, but then struggled (or failed) to apply and practice our new skills back in our day-to-day environments. Whether we needed reminders, intentional check-ins, or regular doses of inspiration, it wasn’t enough to cover the skills or behavior once.

Regardless of how exemplary a learning intervention is, one-time events cannot drive behavior change alone. In order to succeed, learning offerings must be relevant to both organizations and participants in the context of day-to-day responsibilities and needs.

Incorporating regular reinforcement components into leadership development efforts increases the likelihood of participants retaining and implementing the desired skills. 

Not all reinforcement is good reinforcement.

the 3 areas that make reinforcement highly effective:

  • Leaders must understand WHY achieving the desired behavior change is important to them: Without context, the value of achieving the desired behavior change can seem like a project that can be tackled later (or may not be prioritized with other competing demands)
  • Leaders must know HOW to master the new knowledge and skills: Without the guidance of practical tips for application, leaders may not know if they are properly using the skills and knowledge gained
  • Leaders must practice WHAT to apply and WHEN to apply it: Without learning by doing, new skills and knowledge remains just a theory or hazy concept


Thanks to new technology and platforms, it’s becoming significantly easier to efficiently and effectively share follow-on resources with participants that gear towards these areas.


Reinforcement comes in a variety of shapes and sizes:

  • In-the-moment reminders to share prompts for reflection or bite-sized pieces of information to keep leaders’ new skills top-of-mind
  • Individual coaching to discuss application of new skills and reflect on opportunities for further growth
  • Group coaching to refresh information, renew commitment, and learn from sharing successes and challenges with colleagues
  • Mentoring to provide personal resources to help the leader navigate the behavior within the organization
  • Peer-to-peer accountability partners to drive execution and provide a buddy you can talk to about practical challenges and successes
  • Virtual follow-up webinars where facilitators/coaches deepen knowledge on key concepts
  • On-demand tools and resources that participants can refer to and use on their schedule


For example, after our The Leadership Challenge® public workshops, we send eCoach, a series of bite-sized, in-the-moment reminders to participants via email. These messages allow participants to regularly bring their attention to the new skills they should be practicing, allowing them to reflect on how they are doing well or how implementing the targeted behaviors of The Leadership Challenge® could have improved a current challenge.

The goal of learning and development is to create a long-term impact for our leaders and employees and reinforcement is an important part of the strategy to get there.


We’d love to hear from you: How are you using reinforcement with your programs and initiatives? What challenges does reinforcement pose for you?

Photo by Brandi Redd on Unsplash

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Krista Skidmore

Krista Skidmore , CEO and Cofounder of FlashPoint, is passionate about all things leadership. She manages FlashPoint's strategic direction with integrity and insight.