Learning is the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. Therefore, it not only enhances social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal development, but also self-sustainability, rather than competitiveness and employability. Organizations can rectify this imbalance by reinforcing and enriching experience-driven development—the learning, growth, and change that happens within leaders as they take action in the face of challenges and make sense of the consequences.
Effective leadership development is experience-driven. Individuals broaden and deepen their leadership capabilities as they do leadership work. In fact, there are good reasons to believe that learning from experience is the number one way that leader development happens. Yet this number one driver of learning gets the least attention in our leader development systems.
Your workforce is increasingly diverse, in background, culture and age. Fostering a company-wide learning-based culture encourages and facilitates understanding one another as well as increasing your employees’ factual knowledge and work-related skills. Companies that consider learning a daily activity and expect employees to embrace this philosophy have seen results that include:
– Stronger sense of ownership among employees that leads to higher job satisfaction
– Greater sense of accountability that leads to higher work quality
– Greater efficiency and productivity
– More effective succession and transition planning and results
– Increased interest in creative inquiry and collaboration
– Positive attitudes toward change
– Increased profitability
Organizational learning is an ongoing, dynamic process, and should become part of the organization’s DNA. A learning culture supports a community of learners, as a total organization, where everyone teaches, everyone learns, everyone shares knowledge. Individual and collective learning is encouraged and rewarded. And those companies that embrace these values will be able to gain and sustain competitive advantage over competitors who do not.
Learning doesn’t come only from educational materials and training sessions. It comes from colleagues. Mentoring for employees at every level is part of a sustainable culture of learning. Mentors show the way and help nurture others so they can grow with your company. For many companies, mentoring presents a beneficial by-product — helping uncover natural leaders.