Leadership development and leadership project-based programs provide participants with practical, real world, and in-depth experiences. Well implemented programs provide ongoing mentorship, and targeted training across a range of areas within the organization. The key for success is customizing and personalizing all phases of the professional growth experience. It should truly be personal professional growth. The goal is to recruit and develop leaders for our organizations. With so much micro-knowledge and tacit knowledge needed for an effective school, or most other organizations, we must be building our benches and “raising our own.” As John Manning (2015) pointed out in Lesson 28 in The Disciplined Leader we must be providing growth opportunities and investing in our team members’ future. Never forget, intelligence of an organization is, no surprise here, a product of the intelligence of its members.
I am writing this post while sitting in the airport in Atlanta. I am heading home from a great meeting of state legislators and state boards of education members held to discuss the new federal education law, Every Student Succeeds Act. One of the things that kept coming up over and over was how imperative it is that schools have robust school leader and teacher leader development programs. It is obvious this is crucial for schools. That is why I am so proud of our Focused Leader Academy. Our Focused Leader Academy is an employee development and engagement program. The idea is that great minds and great motives still matter. Teachers with school leadership aspirations have the opportunity to become part of a cohort which will take part in monthly leadership training and be part of supervised leadership projects of the school. Cohort size is at least 10% of teaching leaders per year. The Vision is: Leadership will be born out of those who are affected by it. The Mission is: Leadership will appear anywhere and anytime it is needed. Our Theory of Action is: If we empower our teachers through leadership skill development…Then we will have teacher leaders ready to contribute to the success of Hoosier Academies and be an important part of our talent pipeline.
In fact we learned this is an important part of our talent management system. If we get it right we will be doing these four things:
- Attracting top talent
- Preparing top talent
- Developing top talent
- Retaining top talent
We need to be intentional about the development of the personal learning agendas of those we serve. In other words, we need to hyper-personalize!
Is your school or organization being intentional in the leadership development of those you serve?
Manning, J.M. (2015). The disciplined leader: keeping the focus on what really matters. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.
You can tell a lot about a person by paying attention to how many times they use “I” in her average email. John Manning (2015) taught us to, “Make yourself less visible in the ownership of successes by assigning the ownership of the results, accomplishments, and progress to the team, such as ‘Our goals as a team are that we plan to hit $120 million in revenue by year’s end and grow our customer base by 10 percent'” (Kindle location 1489). True leadership isn’t found seeking the spotlight, but seeking to shine the spotlight on others. The best leaders only use “I” when accepting responsibility for failures. Likewise, they are quick to use “we” when referring to successes.
Leadership isn’t about your rhetoric; it’s about your actions. Leadership might begin with having a vision, but it’s delivering and implementing the vision that will ultimately determine your success as a leader. Remember, without your people there is no platform. Without your team you have nothing to lead. When you place yourself above the people you lead you have failed as a leader.
Manning, J. (2015). The disciplined leader: 52 concise, powerful lessons. Oakland, CA: Barrett – Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Yesterday was one of those incredible days in the life of a school leader. In the morning I was able to spend time with several teachers from our own school as well as many others from around the state as part of a program developed by one of Hoosier Academies teacher leaders, Jill Landers, in conjunction with Tosha Salyers and the Institute for Quality Education called “Empowered Teachers for Action.” The program included five sessions, four of which were held the previous four Wednesday’s, with the goal of educating teachers on governance, policy, and how to become involved in the legislative process. The program was a total success and culminated yesterday at the Indiana Statehouse with a panel discussion with Indiana Senator Hershman and Indiana Representative Cook, a discussion about how legislation comes about, and finally a discussion with Speaker of the House Brian Bosma. It was AWESOME! I might add this was Jill’s Focused Leadership Project as part of her experience in our Focused Leader Academy (FLA).
As if that were not enough to make the day complete, we were then off to school for an afternoon session with our Focused Leader Academy where they were finishing up the development of our school’s new Vision, Mission, and Core Values. Last week, academy members led a school board retreat session getting board feedback and input. Now, the team was putting the finishing touches on everything. Earlier in the day there had been discussions about what a great experience and journey this has been for our teacher leaders. In fact, I would say our leaders have had an experience of truly building a vision, mission, and core values that very few top level CEOs have ever had. One of our FLA members, Alissa Davis, even said, “You know, I go through other organizations’ mission and vision statements and try to see if I can figure out what they do and stand for, and you know; many of them you can’t.” I have to give credit here to Mike Fleisch, who has been so much more than a graphic facilitator during our journey. He has been a partner, friend, and my jazz partner. We truly have become a jazz improvisation act. I’ll need to blog about this collaboration, but I’ll just say I would not be the leader I am today without the
collaborative friendship/partnership, and jazz act, we have developed.
Those that know me won’t be surprised when I say that during our Focused Leader Academy session I get a little, o.k. a lot, excited and animated. How can you not, with a room full of great teacher leaders? Anyway, I had just said earlier in the day that I lived for these days. I was concerned yesterday,however, because there was a snowstorm coming in and I did not want to cancel or quit early (we did not have to). You know how sometimes when weather comes in how great it is when you get part of your day back when something is cancelled or ended early? Let me tell you, I do not ever wish that on these sessions.
During the afternoon session I got all excited when the group finally put the final draft status on the vision and mission and had defined student success (you’ll have to wait for these to be revealed). Then Jill Landers looked over at me and said, “this is your heroin.” Wow, pretty profound, right! Yes, she was correct – leadership and working with our staff is my heroin. Working with our teacher leaders in the area of leadership and professional growth is a drug for me. I get all hopped up just preparing and putting the sessions together. And, at the end of the day, I go through a little withdrawal. We all laughed when Jill made the comment, but she was right. I then shared a story I had heard about why so many rock stars have drug problems – it is because of the rush and high they get being on stage with all the people cheering and then there is not that high when they are not performing and they need something to give them that high. Drugs and alcohol become the medium. Well, let me assure you I do not need the medium in between, but I think we can all understand the situation.
Last night I got to thinking about having a drug addiction-like passion for leadership. Our second President, John Adams, was concerned about this passion for leadership. He posited that leaders become so passionate and addicted to the power of leadership they have the tendency to become tyrannical. He believed that an important task of leaders was both to incite and to control human passion, both in ourselves and those we lead. Make no mistake here, however, it is the passionate leaders we need in the world. It’s the passionate people that take the biggest risks, step up to the plate, and help make the biggest leaps forward within teams, companies, and organizations. People want to follow a passionate leader. Someone who cares about not only the cause for which he or she is working, but also the other people who are involved in the effort. Passion for the projects, for the company and for the people involved are key to successful leadership.
Finally, I guess it comes down to my attitude and mindset that makes working with our future leaders one of my leadership drugs (to continue with the metaphor). I’m driven by curiosity and the motivation to learn about the world around us. As leaders, we need to find ways to connect with the world around us. Curiosity and interest are both key qualities of the best leaders I know. What is your leadership heroin?
Indiana weather has been absolutely beautiful this weekend. The temperature has been in the 60s and it has been sunny. Perfect weather to get out and get a start on some spring farm jobs that need to be done; even if it is still February. My son, Heath, and I did some high tensile fence repair and maintenance today. As we worked I thought about a blog post I did a few years ago entitled “Mending Fences.” You can read it here, but it dealt with how the maintenance done to keep a high tensile fence in proper repair is like being a leader.
Today as we were working, Heath made the comment that there were tools specifically made for the fence repair pieces we were using. Specifically, he was talking about the fence pliers/crimps used to splice a broken wire together using sleeves specially formed and gritted to hold the two wires together. As we talked I thought about the imagery of the tools is the toolbox to the tools we have available as leaders.This same metaphor of the leadership toolbox is being used in a book I am reading right now.
I am reading a great book by Robert Gates. The book is A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service. The book just came out in January 2016 and it is amazing. Just as great as one of Gates’s other books, Duty. I would recommend reading both of them. Gates served as secretary of defense under both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. He was also an officer in the United States Air Force and worked for the CIA before being appointed director of the agency. A member of the National Security Council staff in four administrations, he served eight presidents of both political parties. He was president of Texas A&M University from 2002 to 2006, is currently chancellor of the College of William & Mary, was named president of the Boy Scouts of America in 2013, and has served on several corporate boards of directors.
In A Passion for Leadership, Gates discusses how to be a successful leader of change and reform we must empower those we lead. One tool for empowerment is the task force. Task forces provide a way to get people out of their ordinary bureaucratic routine and get them in an environment where they are sharing ideas with people from different parts of an organization and people often in those kinds of settings can come up with great ideas and new approaches. Sometimes I get criticized for being to collaborative and wanting to involve as many stakeholders as possible in coming up with the best solutions possible, but Gates seems to share this same believe with me. At the end of the day there are many decisions where the leader must make the final call, but why not have as many options and ideas on the table as possible. At the end of the day those we lead need to know we will make decisions and we’re not afraid to make tough decisions. But, to make those decisions we need to be knowledgeable as possible in order to make intelligent decisions. The only way to have that knowledge is to do personal study as well as listen to those around us. Finally, we as the leader, drive the change, reform, or turnaround agendas of our organizations. Great leaders decide what are the issues that she is going to expend time and political capital on.
It has also been exciting to read about Gates’s view on the tool of creating a vision. As you know we have been going through this very process with the school I lead presently. According to Gates, the vision doesn’t spring suddenly or fully developed from the leader’s brain. The person should listen, according to Gates, to a broad range of internal and external stakeholders, especially people who want to be part of a winning team. Leaders should integrate that information with instincts, experience and judgment to increase the likelihood that the vision will be grounded in reality, achievable and inspiring.
Again, it has been exciting to read about all the leadership tools Robert Gates has used during his successful career to change and reform the organizations he has lead, including our nation.
What leadership tools do you need to develop in your leadership toolbox?
Amazingly, I just blogged about “Walking the Walk” and ” Walking the Talk” just before reading Lesson #26 in The Disciplined Leader (2015) by John Manning entitled “Honor Your Commitments.” Honoring your commitments as a leader is truly a defining mantra. How we handle our commitments and walk the walk define our moments of truth.
“In the end, such leaders build entire reputations, even legacies, around being known as people who always do what they say they are going to do.” ~ John M. Manning
For this post I would like to bullet what I consider to be the great points made by Manning (2015) in this lesson:
- When leaders fail to follow through on commitments big or small, people notice, remember, and care when they’re let down. Such leaders lose the esteem of their employees, and both morale and productivity suffer.
- Remember your direct reports are watching and evaluating your ability to honor commitments, which should keep you on your toes!
- If you tell employees you’ll address their concerns about an issue, keep your word, follow up with them, and meet that obligation. After all, you demand the same level of respect and follow-through whenever you ask that of them.
- The more positive impressions you make, the greater your chances are of winning the trust of those around you.
- Define and communicate. When you say you’re going to do something, don’t just assume you’ll remember your promise or obligation. Write it down, set a deadline, and then define and communicate what that follow-up looks like.
- Don’t overcommit. A lot of leaders often say “yes” because they don’t know how to say “no.” Others overcommit because they’re afraid of how it might appear if they don’t agree to do something.
- Get the help you need. Sometimes an activity can look pretty doable, even easy at first. Once you get into the thick of it, however, it becomes more complicated, taking on a life of its own. It’s important to have the ability to get additional resources if needed.
Great leaders honor commitments and understand that doing so is a high-impact activity.
Manning, J.M. (2015). The disciplined leader: keeping the focus on what really matters. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Last evening I was having a conversation with one of our teacher leaders and we were talking about leaders who do not follow through, who are always “checking on it,” “thinking about it,” or are always “working on it.” I also explained I had been in a meeting this past week where a person said, “I’m a visionary – I want nothing to do with execution or implementation!” Are you serious, I thought! The person went on to say, “I hate execution and implementation!” Are you kidding me! That’s the fun part. The world has way to many of these, so called “big thinkers” who have no clue how nor the grit to implement. The world does not need anymore of these people! I say we need more of people who are willing to be the “Deer in the Headlights” and I blogged about it here. The world needs more of my hero, Thomas Edison. He was visionary and innovative, but was also a creator, inventor, and implementation expert. In other words we need more people who can “walk the walk.” In fact we talked about this last fall in one of our Focused Leader Academy sessions.
The teacher leader I was having this discussion with is a great idea generator who also knows how to put a plan in action. We discussed how I really have come to the conclusion that the picture I most adore in my office that has penguins and says “Walk the Talk” is probably incorrect and should say “Walk the Walk.” Think about this: do I really need to talk if I am walking my and the organization I serve core values? Honestly, we, myself included, probably do too much talking and just need to do more walking. People will witness our actions and values and not need to be told about them. In other words, our behavior and day-to-day actions have to match the aspirations we have for those we lead, our colleagues, and organization.
“Innovation is rewarded, execution is worshipped.”
Let me be clear here, however, this does not mean I believe we don’t need thought leaders. We do. But… we need thought leaders that can turn those thoughts into reality. Many times a leader is ineffectual because she knows how to bark out ideas and orders, but is not able to explain, in language that is unique to her field and compelling to her colleagues or customers. This comes down to being able to explain the “why” what the team needs to do matters and how she expects the team to win. It has been said that great leaders think differently and invariably talk differently, as well. I am arguing here that great leaders also need to act differently. And… by act I mean it in the truest sense of the verb – do something about the talk. That is really what those we lead want is someone who gets things done.
In closing, remember this, authentic leaders must share the struggles and risks that we demand of our people. Furthermore, a leader’s actions must consistently reinforce the most important core values we hold up for our companies, organizations or movements. Don’t forget, innovation is rewarded and execution is worshipped. Go implement!
When I wrote the post Into the End Zone I said that Lessons #24 and #25 were ones that I believe are some of the toughest leadership norms to live up to. Tough because even if we are not crossing the line or playing favorites sometimes the perception is there. As we know perception truly is reality and therefore we must take action according to the advice of John Manning (2015) in The Disciplined Leader.
“This game of preferential treatment can build barriers and hostilities, create a mini-culture of exclusivity among your people, and most certainly damage your leadership credibility. Avoid this leadership sin at all costs by consistently treating everyone fairly, always striving to sustain a reputation for being a leader who doesn’t play favorites.” ~ John Manning
One thing I have found is there will always be some who will believe I am showing favorites. Partly because some that are not performing at top shelf level are going to make themselves the victim and believe/perceive it is because they are not the chosen one. Now, let me be clear, I believe I need to recognize those individuals and help coach them. However, I have found these individuals to be the toughest to coach. These are individuals who tend to make themselves out as victims. Interestingly, when working with our Focused Leader Academy teachers they picked leaders being victims as one of the worst bad leadership traits. I blogged about this in Leaders Framing Themselves as Victims.
As I write this I am reminded of something profound that the greatest basketball coach and leader of all time, John Wooden said: “treating everyone the same is the surest way to show favoritism.” The bottom line is, we should not be striving to treat everyone we serve the same because, guess what, they are not! If we treat everyone the same way, we are for sure being biased because each individual is unique. The needs of different people require us to treat them differently. In order to not show blatant favoritism, we must take into consideration individual needs and do our best to treat everyone the right way. The right way is finding a way to differentiate how we empower team members, the coaching we provide, or the professional growth experience we make available. This means NOT treating everyone the same way. But then, won’t we appear to be playing favorites to some outside observers? Maybe so! This conundrum can drive us crazy. I believe if we just follow the rule of instead of giving everyone the same thing or treating them all the same; we give them what they need.
“Treating everyone the same is the surest way to show favoritism.” ~ John Wooden
Two ways I have found to keep me from falling into a trap of practicing favoritism are:
- Making sure I don’t pick/use/appoint the same people all the time for everything. This is an easy trap to into because our natural tendency is to have go to team members we use all the time. This allows us the opportunity to show you are not always picking a certain person for assignments. There may be some small risk in doing this, but if we accept the responsibility of knowing that we may need to provide some assistance or extra coaching, the team will become stronger and the bench gets deeper.
- I also believe that creating a culture where cross training of people should be routine is paramount. In doing so, you develop bench strength, and you can demonstrate less tendencies toward favoritism.
Bottom line; don’t be afraid to practice John Wooden’s advice and treat everyone differently. It is really what we should be doing – differentiating. Differentiating is different than playing favorites. As human beings we can’t help but have favorite people, but, as leaders, we must operate with fairness and integrity. To do this we must not try to treat all individuals the same way in every instance. We must treat individuals in a way that helps him contribute to the fullest in the carrying out of the organization’s mission and helps him reach the personal/professional goals he has set for himself.
How is your balancing going?
Lessons #24 and #25 in John Manning’s (2015) The Disciplined Leader may the the toughest for a leader in my opinion. Lesson #24 deals with crossing the line. On the MAP Blog John Manning told us that the following are times when a leader tends to cross the line:
- serving as a new manager or head of a team, division, department, etc.
- overseeing former co-workers due to a recent in-house promotion
- starting out in business ownership
- working in a family business
- creating a partnership
I would add one more scenario where not crossing the line seems to be a challenge, at least for me: turning around an organization that has a toxic culture or lacks a culture of excellence. Sometimes when building a collaborative culture it is easy to cross the line. We, as leaders, are trying to include everyone’s input and empower everyone where once no one was empowered. The lines become blurred. We must remember “…representing your team doesn’t mean compromising your authority to drive results and succeed. It means engaging with your team while keeping its best interests at heart, within the framework of your leadership responsibilities.” (Manning, 2015, Kindle Locations 1369-1370). Then it really becomes about perception; and, we all know that perception becomes reality.
John Perkins was Chief Economist at a major international consulting firm where he advised the World Bank, United Nations, the IMF, U.S. Treasury Department, Fortune 500 corporations, and governments in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Since then, his books have sold more than 1 million copies and been printed in over 30 languages. He has been featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, NPR, A&E, the History Channel, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Der Spiegel, and many other publications. He is a founder and board member of Dream Change and The Pachamama Alliance, nonprofits devoted to establishing a world our children will want to inherit. His new book, The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, can be found on Amazon.
It has been nearly twelve years since the release of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. People have wondered how the publication of that book has affected me and what I am doing to redeem myself and change the EHM system. They have also questioned what they themselves can do to help turn the system around. The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is my answer.
The excerpt below shows just how pervasive corruption is. In 2015, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), hit the front pages as evidence of bribery, fraud, and money laundering were brought into the open. I hope you enjoy this short glimpse into chapter 42 of the book and the events that became my confessions.
I’d like say a special thanks to Byron for his support of my new release and for his willingness to post this on his blog. I hope you’ll connect with me on Twitter and Facebook!
EHMs, FIFA, and the Growing Problem of Poverty
I was struck by how anesthetized the American public has become to being exploited. Our willingness to wear blinders is similar to attitudes in the countries I’d exploited during the 1970s. In addition to the relatively secret schemes of the bankers, we are exploited by overt measures that we quietly accept as standard practice. These include the skyrocketing student debt caused by state and federal cuts in public education, the constantly increasing medical debt resulting from deficient national health care and insurance policies, predatory payday loans, tax laws that subsidize a few of the richest at the expense of the many, and the outsourcing of jobs to other countries. The mantra “We will do whatever it takes” echoes from bank boardrooms into the halls of Congress.
This was brought home during the 2015 FIFA soccer scandal. The EHM system is so pervasive that it infects all areas of society, even sports. According to charges brought by the US Justice Department against leaders of international soccer’s governing body, the perpetrators employed many of the tools that had been part of my EHM kit, including bribes, fraud, and money laundering, and it was done in collaboration with the big banks. The corruption was unchecked for nearly two decades and cost the communities and taxpayers of many nations fortunes while making a small number of elites wealthy.
At first, I was relieved that the Justice Department had taken action. This seemed a step in the right direction. The regulators were finally regulating. Then I saw a different aspect.
The soccer scandal was a smoke-and-mirrors diversion. Media attention focused on a nonessential aspect of life—sports—at a time when the real criminals were stealing the global economy. Individual FIFA officials were carted off in handcuffs while bank executives awarded themselves multimillion-dollar bonuses. Why were individual bank officers, whose admitted crimes affected all of us, not indicted?
The obvious answer is that the bankers are members of the corporatocracy, whereas FIFA officials are not. The story that the Justice Department had uncovered so much wrongdoing among the FIFA people and was aggressively pursuing indictments diverted attention from the bigger story. The banking lobby owns the Justice Department. Banks are so wealthy and powerful that they can buy our elected officials, the regulators who serve us, and the media that is supposed to keep us informed.
I found myself once again thinking a lot about [former colleague] Howard Zinn. He and I had discussed the growing power of lobbyists. “We vote,” he said. “But those we elect don’t seem to listen to us anymore. They obey the commands of the people who finance their campaigns, corporate lobbyists.” He pointed out that I’d done something similar. “You obeyed the World Bank.” He paused. “Did you really think the World Bank wanted to end world poverty?”
I saw an image of myself in 1967, while I was still in business school, standing at the entrance to the World Bank and reading the motto “Working for a World Free of Poverty.” I believed those seven words. But not for long. Within a few years, I discovered that the motto was symbolic of the deceptions that characterize the bank’s work.
Since the publication of the original version of this book, I’ve participated on panels and in debates where development professionals try to defend the World Bank. They argue that the work I did, and that the bank has done since, has gone a long way toward ending poverty. The facts, however, tell a different story.
A recent Oxfam report revealed that almost half the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population and that seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the past thirty years. Slum dwellers in countries where I promoted World Bank projects, such as Argentina, Colombia, Egypt, and Indonesia, might now have mobile phones, but they are by no means free of poverty. In fact, from a comparative standpoint, they are worse off than when I was an EHM. According to World Bank statistics, 2.2 billion people still lived at a poverty level of less than two dollars per day in 2011—a huge number of people, considering the billions of dollars paid to global corporations to “free the world of poverty.” These are just a few of the many statistics that expose deceptions related to World Bank and other development policies.
Over the past three decades, sixty of the world’s poorest countries have paid $550 billion in principal and interest on loans of $540 billion, yet they still owe a whopping $523 billion on those same loans. The cost of servicing that debt is more than these countries spend on health or education and is twenty times the amount they receive annually in foreign aid. In addition, World Bank projects have brought untold suffering to some of the planet’s poorest people. In the past ten years alone, such projects have forced an estimated 3.4 million people out of their homes; the governments in these countries have beaten, tortured, and killed opponents of World Bank projects.
My colleagues and I did whatever we thought it would take to expand the corporate, capitalist empire. That was the real goal. The World Bank motto was a subterfuge. We convinced government leaders that, unless they accepted our loans and paid us to train their militaries and build up their infrastructures, their citizens would be ruled by brutal Stalinstyle dictators. Corporate capitalism would boost them out of the dark ages of feudalism and into the modern era of US-driven prosperity.
It is a system that has mushroomed since Confessions of an Economic Hit Man was first published. Today, in addition to the World Bank, it is promoted by the private banks—by the individuals who admit to criminal activities and, instead of prison terms, receive multimillion-dollar bonuses. They and their corporate colleagues convince people around the world that success is defined by personal assets rather than by contributions to the greater community, that privatization and deregulation protect the public, that government assistance for the needy is wasteful and counterproductive, that personal debt is better than government investment in social services, and that men and women who live in mansions and travel in private jets and luxury yachts are icons to be emulated.
Howard Zinn understood why a majority of us accept these platitudes. Those in the middle class, he said, who have the material trappings of prosperity, are complacent because they possess the things they were taught to covet, and they don’t want to lose them. Those who live in poverty are complacent because they have to devote their energies toward simply surviving. All of this is expertly managed by a whole new breed of EHMs.
During the 12 years since the publication of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, the world has changed radically. I am excited to share with you how economic hit men and jackal assassins have spread to the U.S. and the rest of the planet and what we all can do to stop them and to create a better world. The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is an expanded and updated edition that includes 15 explosive new chapters. It also provides detailed strategies each and every one of us can employ to avert the crises looming before us. To learn more please visit www.johnperkins.org, and join me in moving not just into ‘sustainability’ but also into ‘regenerating’ devastated environments.
Lesson #23 in The Disciplined Leader by John M. Manning (2015) really hit home with me. In this lesson he gives us three pieces of advice:
- Be open to other ideas.
- Admit when you’re not right.
- Involve others in your decisions.
What this really describes is a learning organization. Garvin (2000) defined the learning organization to be, “an organization skilled at creating, acquiring, interpreting, transferring, and retaining knowledge, and at purposefully modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights” (Garvin, 2000, p. 11). Learning in any organization must happen in three stages: acquiring, interpreting, and applying (Garvin, 2000). The premise is to have an environment with many different perspectives that encourages new approaches and provides psychological safety. Learning organizations that have constructive and helpful relations enable people to have dialogue, inquiry, and dissent. This allows for the formation of micro-communities, which act as an origin for knowledge creation.
Organizations that develop a high learning capacity demand a greater cognitive complexity from their members. Collaborative climates supporting inquiry, relationships, and self-reflection are critical for the forming of a learning organization. The complexity of the components of the learning organization make it difficult to put into practice. It really comes down to making sure all the individuals in the organization have the mindset of using the three keys previously mentioned from Manning (2015). One way I have found to combat this for myself is to practice a fostering of trust and reciprocity. Many times when I am pitching an idea I start with: “Tell me why this is a bad idea,” or “Tell me why I am wrong,” or “what am I missing?” This tells the team I am willing to listen to their opinions (and I truly am). I am amazed at how many times, great ideas have been developed from my stupid ones. Remember, it’s not about the win for you personally, but the WIN (What’s Important Now) for the organization and those you serve.
Garvin, D. A. (2000). Learning in action: A guide to putting the learning organization to work. Boston, MA: Harvard Business SchoolPress.
Manning, John (2015). The disciplined leader: keeping the focus on what really matters. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.