Successful leadership development relies on combining a number of development experiences and connecting them back to the workplace. No matter how good the content of a workshop may be, classroom training alone is not the most effective way to accelerate the development of leaders in an organisation. Many HR & Training Directors think that the answer lies in action learning, when leaders can apply the skills they have learnt to real projects, creating the opportunity for real business impact and producing a direct return on the investment in leadership development.
Action learning | What are the keys?
Action learning holds a powerful promise. However, not everyone realises that the following 4 factors are key in delivering on that promise:
1. Real and important business challenges
To ensure ongoing commitment from across the organisation, you need projects that are relevant, timely, and important to both individual participants and to the business. You need all the sponsors to make it clear that the output or “deliverables” of the project will be implemented and then stick to this commitment. What could be more demotivating for high-potential leaders than to see their hard work ignored and left by the wayside?
2. Sponsorship from the top
You need visible buy-in and support from senior management. This will reinforce the connection between leadership development and business results and ensure accountability, in the organisation and the individual leaders, for taking action and delivering results from the project.
3. Genuine support from participants’ managers
It is imperative that participants’ managers understand and visibly support the demands that project commitments put on participants. Managers who either do not see how the programme helps to develop new skills and behaviours or who do not see how the programme delivers benefits to the business can create conflicting priorities.
4. Regular progress reviews
You must hold leaders accountable for managing the project and delivering results. This can be helped by formal communication of project plans, periodic progress reporting, and presentations of results to peers and senior management.
What else would you add? How do you design your action learning projects to make sure they deliver the benefits you want?