Action learning for leadership development is not a new concept. But its effectiveness is reinforced by research again and again.
The only piece that makes this development approach even more powerful is adding a skilled leadership coach who can guide the learning and ensure the real work gets done back on the job.
What are the advantages of action learning? Leaders learn as they work on real issues in real time. They are not wasting time and effort on so-called scenarios that have little to do with their actual business challenges.
Here is how Action Learning for Leadership Development works:
- Leaders address issues with others on their learning team. They work together in a safe environment and are able to appreciate one another’s strengths. This interaction builds trust and helps integrate individual senior managers into a high functioning team.
- The team identifies what needs improvement…it may be a skill they lack or a pressing business problem. As a group, they agree upon next steps and actions to take. The leadership coach offers advice and guidance and helps to codify the skills to be practiced or the plans to be implemented. The action plans are transparent to the team members so each one knows what the others will be doing.
- Leaders take the agreed-upon actions back on the job. Here is real transfer of training as they practice different behaviors right back onsite where they are needed.
- When the team reconvenes, they analyze results and reflect upon what they might handle differently. They share observations and feedback. Did they practice the new skill, how often and what were the results? Perhaps they made a recommended change in sales team methodology. How was that received? The job site becomes a laboratory for experimentation and change.
- Finally they tweak their strategy and plan for the next leadership actions. It is an iterative process where the learning occurs step-by-step. Identification of the issue to be addressed, planning for what actions to take, practice on the job of the agreed-upon steps, reflection on how to do it better and new plans for action. It doesn’t take long before this methodology for action learning for leadership development becomes embedded in the learner’s DNA and in the team process.