Today, the value of continuous learning is an indisputable component of successful leadership — of leading others and leading self. About this, there is little doubt! When it comes to learning styles, methods, and approaches, however, there is an interesting question to which there is no simple answer:
What is the most effective way for individuals – and leaders at all levels — to learn?
From whom and from what sources?
Leaders certainly appreciate the importance of keeping up on trends and keeping current with groundbreaking literature on leadership. Here’s one method we’d like to highlight! Generally referred to as Action Learning, this approach puts the emphasis on involving others who are in similar situations and promoting the formation of groups of people who work together to discover and learn through action and reflection.
What is it?
There are plenty of useful definitions of Action Learning (McGill and Beaty, 1992; Pedler, 1996; Raelin, 2000) but at the core of all of them is the idea that action learning is:
- A method for individual and organization development.
- Based upon small groups of colleagues meeting over time to tackle real problems or issues in order to get things done; reflecting and learning with and from their experience and from each other as they attempt to change things.
This may seem deceptively simple but it embodies ideas about adult learning and organizational change which are both complex and central to what action learning is about.
The Action Learner’s Toolkit by John Edmonstone
First developed by Professor Reg Revans (1907-2003) in the 1940’s, Action Learning accepts the role that expert knowledge plays in learning, but expands the means by which learning occurs by incorporating the benefits of group dynamics – of bringing people together to solve real problems and to learn from each other as they work together to create new solutions. Action Learning is today a proven technique for adding substantially to one’s knowledge and behavioral skills.
We recommend taking a look at the first video on YouTube to really “get” the concept. If it grabs you, as we hope it will, we know you’ll want to finish the series as soon as you can.
YouTube Videos on Action Learning
- Why Use Action Learning Now? (1 of 5)
- Action Learning Process (2 of 5)
- Examples of Action Learning Program and Meeting Formats (3 of 5)
- Different Perspectives on Action Learning (4 of 5)
- Typical Results From Action Learning (5 of 5)
Bottom line . . .
Action Learning — with the help of a coach or facilitator — can be among the most important tools for moving beyond the norm to gain knowledge and improve productivity. We hope you’ll try it soon!
Additional Insights . . .
- There is an on-going call for leaders to be continual learners. This YouTube video is short and clear about why leaders always need to be learning. It also provides strong support for the Leadership Journey’s emphasis on being “self and other aware.”
Edgar Papke on Leaders as Learners