Article: Experts deliberate how experiential learning can build leaders of tomorrow

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Experts deliberate how experiential learning can build leaders of tomorrow

Experiential learning is a powerful medium to address personal goals and challenges, to build a connection with learners and to build these necessary leadership and business skills.
Experts deliberate how experiential learning can build leaders of tomorrow

Leadership in today’s milieu is about creating a sense of purpose and a culture of growth in the organisation. Immersive learning methodologies that are hands-on, tailor-made, personalised and coaching-led are essential to build leadership in an ever-changing world.

To find the connection between leadership and business skills and to understand the impact of personalised learning programmes on leadership management, People Matters in partnership with Leadership Trust conducted a virtual session recently.

As part of the discussion, Robin Ancrum, Senior Associate and Course Director, Leadership Trust and Eric Gregoire, Chief Executive Officer, Goodpack IBC Pte Ltd came together for a highly engaging and interesting discussion on Unlocking The Role of Experiential Learning in Creating Leaders of Tomorrow.

Bringing his own perspective on leadership development, Robin laid importance on using personal power to win the hearts and minds of others to achieve a common purpose and the ways it could be capitalised. 

Personal power means the personal strengths, capabilities, life-experiences, knowledge, skills & cognitive abilities, behaviours, the habitual way of being and responding to people, and vulnerabilities and weaknesses, which is unique in each individual. Hence, the starting point of leadership development is self-awareness which means understanding the nature of your personal power, learning how to deploy it better and knowing how to continuously strengthen it,” he shared in his presentation at the virtual session.

One can enable people to develop and enhance their leadership by creating the right learning conditions, namely, a safe environment, reassurance of support, impetus of challenge, simultaneous integration of thinking (head-learning) and feeling (heart-learning) and continued application to embed change into habit,” he added. 

Why does leadership training disappoint?

In his presentation, Robin delved into how leadership is both relational and contextual. “Leadership development often goes unsuccessful because it fails to touch people at the right level of emotional response, is too deep such that people are scared off, or is too superficial such that any impact is short-lived. Often it fails to integrate thinking and feeling”, he felt. 

To overcome these challenges, the Leadership Trust has developed a 4-step Leadership Development Process that entails:  

  • Clear, conscious and accurate awareness of oneself 
  • Sensitivity and empathy towards others
  • Ability to manage one’s feelings, responsibilities, moods and reactions
  • Skillful management of interpersonal relations 

“Leadership development is best served when it combines a powerful, real emotional experience of leading and being led with a clear and compelling explanation that makes sense of the experience for each individual. To be effective, the development journey must combine and integrate the two modes of experience – cognitive and emotional”, shares Robin.

The Leadership Trust’s programme-design uses David Kolb’s Learning Cycle to deliver on its mission of ‘developing leadership capabilities of clients at personal and individual level, team-level and organisational-level’. The methodology drives change in doing, thinking, relating to others and in seeing the world. In effect, it enables people to learn from within themselves. 

How does experiential learning impact leadership? 

Robin believes that leadership development is a continuous development process, not a stop-start action. It involves doing things differently, unlearning and learning. Here are some ways in which Leadership Trust leverage experiential learning.

  • Start with self-awareness: Leaders need to be self-aware and understand what they truly want. “People are getting into the trap of managing and micromanaging. Today’s speed and rapidity of tech and communication changes makes it difficult to get inner calm, confidence, quiet wisdom, which is the inner route of leadership,” Eric said while sharing his personal journey of how he was lucky to experience the ‘enjoyment of achievement’ early in life, leading to an emotional high. 
  • Leverage individual potential: Organisations must leverage individual potential for business success. Robin shared a personal experience when he discovered he was going down the wrong track. “I thought my potential lay in one area, but then I was able to deploy my own personal abilities for business success”. 
  • Create a purpose: Eric believes that purpose is a blending of the intellectual and emotional side of what we do. It creates an attraction to push everyone in the same direction and connect with each other. Purpose can be found through experiential learning and brainstorming. 
  • Understand external environments: Eric emphasised that leadership at the top is about having the headspace to understand the changing environment and steering people towards new opportunities. Leadership success stems from the success rate of the change agenda. Eric said, “We have to take care of the emotional aspect, mere intellectual-level changes have a tendency to fail”. Leaders must ask the tough questions” ‘is my team ready to change’, ‘what is the emotional strength’, etc. We must see people as a means of change and the reason for change; people want someone they can look up to. 
  • Cultivate a learning culture: Experiential learning starts with tailoring learning experiences to the individual’s needs. Eric also urges organisations to give its people the luxury to fail. Else people will stay in their comfort zones and avoid learning. Leadership development programs act as a safe zone to be challenged, trip, learn, and get better. It will help know how people will react in the moment of crises.  

During an audience poll on the biggest learning impediment when it comes to skilling, the inability to track results of leadership training got the maximum votes. On the results, Robin observed: “It is difficult to metrically assess success. The CEO and CHRO are the ones who know the quality of leadership”. 

Are you eager to know more about how you can strengthen your leaders to address bottlenecks and embrace opportunities? Book a call to determine how Leadership Trust could help you and your organisation tackle a wide range of challenges. Click here to get started on this transformation journey!

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Topics: Learning & Development, Leadership, Leadership Development, #HRCommunity

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