Learning-Focused Leadership and Peer Learning Groups

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“We can’t write off the danger of complacency, growing rigidity, imprisonment by our own comfortable habits and opinions.” John W. Gardner

Complacency kills organizations: their ability to be agile, compete and transform to meet emergent challenges. It is easy to get stuck in processes, budgets, and systems, etc. and get comfortable with “what is.” Yet this strategy is short-sighted.  Neither life nor competition is complacent. “What is” is already in the past and obsolete. Organizations need to move beyond what is comfortable and known to create what is new, necessary, and relevant. This requires learning-focused leaders who can effectively communicate a compelling vision and mobilize their managers and employees at all levels.

Leaders In Learning Mode

In “The Power Of Learning-Focused Leadership,” Karen Hebert-Maccaro references research published in a Harvard Business Review article that “leaders in learning mode benefited by adopting a growth mindset…experimenting with alternative strategies and approaches to problems, and through their committed use of after-action reviews and post mortems to learn from the results of their experimentation. These characteristics allow leaders to be more agile in adapting to changing environments as well as to think creatively about how to approach challenges.”

Learning-Focused Leaders

Learning-focused leaders recognize that learning through work ensures that the employee is learning something relevant and practical. This requires allowing for appropriate risk taking and learning by doing, which increases the likelihood that the learning will be effective.

Learning-focused leaders commit to a learning orientation, adopt growth mindsets, and model learning-focused behaviors. They expect the same of their employees, which can lead to a learning culture.

A Learning Culture

According to Linkedin Learning’s “2017 Workplace Learning Report,” the average shelf-life of a skill has shrunk to five years. Ms. Hebert-Maccaro observes that “organizations and individuals who aren’t constantly learning, upskilling and reskilling risk obsolescence.”

A 2015 Society of Human Resource Management article, “How To Create A Learning Culture,” defines a learning culture as consisting of: “a community of workers instilled with a ‘growth mindset.’ people not only want to learn and apply what they’ve learned to help their organization, they also feel compelled to share their knowledge with others.

Why is this important? Research conducted by Bersin & Associates in 2010 found that companies with learning cultures were 30 percent more likely to be market leaders. Learning cultures only happen when there are learning-focused leaders.

Peer Learning Groups

This brings us to peer learning groups, where learning-focused managers who have a growth mindset share their knowledge with their peers as they learn and apply what they learned to help their organization be successful.

The purpose of a peer learning group is to give managers the opportunity to learn from each other, experiment with different strategies to address real job challenges, and reflect on their experience so they are prepared for similar challenges in the future. This requires that the managers are open to the trial and error involved in experimentation, which helps them learn how to respond more effectively to new and different challenges.

If you would like to build a learning culture, you can begin by creating peer learning groups to encourage and develop learning-focused leadership. Visit https://peerlearninginstitute.com.

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