Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Leadership Action Learning – 5 Lessons from the Field

When it comes to action learning and developing better leaders, not all approaches are created equal. While the concept of leaders learning-by-doing has been around since the 1950’s, many mistakenly believe that including some experiential activities and case studies make for an effective leadership action learning program.

Do not be fooled. True action learning programs get real work done and create stronger and more effective leaders as measured by business results.

To get meaningful outcomes, make sure that you incorporate these five lessons from the field:

  1. Executive Buy-In and Relevance: To truly have an impact with high potentials and leaders, start by creating a partnership with senior management and the “bosses” of the participants to ensure relevance and support.

  2. Success Metrics: Identify and articulate clear success metrics for the program, the participants, and the business before you take any additional steps. Then make sure that everything you do ties back to those metrics.

  3. Performance Coaching: The real magic with experiential programs typically happens during timely performance coaching and feedback sessions. Ensure that this is core component of your program design. It creates a 4-to-1 difference compared to programs without coaching.

  4. Performance Feedback: Include ongoing stakeholder, participant, and manager feedback and involvement during the design, development, and delivery process to ensure that you are on the right track and recalibrating as necessary.

  5. Real Work: The more the program focuses on solving real problems and creating real results, the higher the chance of success. Do not get fooled into thinking that “Harvard Business Case Studies” as homework will change behavior or performance results.
With these five lessons in place, you should be set to use job aids, best practice tools, case studies, simulations, and experiential activities as part of your program design.

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