Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Paradoxical about Experiences

I read an article from Linkage Inc. by Morgan W. McCall, Jr lately about experiences and individual development planning. It begins more or less by quoting School of Hard Knocks teaches lessons learned only 'in the trenches" which there was no substitute. It is being said that experience, the best teacher yet years of experience do no predict expert performance or executive effectiveness. Professor McCall highlighted this article is to take stock of where we are today in our knowledge of the role of experience in developing leadership talent and to suggest where we might go next in our quest for wisdom.

Tons of questions appear in our mind such as "What puts the fire in experience or makes an assignment challenging?" "What specific lessons are learned from playing with fire?" Who are the ones with the most potential? How do you spot them? How do you make sure the talent get the experiences they need? How do you prevent them from coming out half-baked, mildly singled or burned-out? Is variety more important than repeated trials? How much does the timing matter? From the questions that fire out, it is very much acknowledging effective leaders have been different in terms of personalities and behave in different ways, and they can be equally effective if they are able to meet the demands of their environments.
It is essential and critical that organizations do what they supposed to create a context supportive of developing leadership talent.

Five Leverage Points to Create context that supports learning from Experience.

Point 1: Identifying Developmental Experiences
Gather people who know the organization and have them identify developmental projects, start-ups, turnarounds, bosses, etc. It is much straightforward these activities as part of the development can be further enhanced with further changing one nature of job. The benefits a pool of potent experiences is demonstrably loaded with potential learning, not all of the lessons are equally valuable to the organization. It's tougher to have everyone to have all the of the available experiences. From there, we would be able to address problems on looking for experience staffs. In the long term, it takes into account of the potential to learn from the experiences and become hopefully the leader in one day.

Point 2: Identification of Potential
The model that we used today often distracted researchers and practitioners from developing practical, realistic and sophisticated approaches to understand leadership. It has become too destructive when it comes to identifying leadership potential. Apparently, all leaders, executives and managers denied on value of everyday experience. The useful approach would be assuming that different people have different sets of attributes that they bring to situations and there are different ways to manage the same situation effectively. Over time, one would expect that the potential of individuals could be assessed via in the progress of ability to meet the challenges as leadership jobs on learning from experiences. Organizations could seize the opportunity by managing the identification of leadership potential such that those with most potential at a given point in time have access to the experiences they wanted.

Point 3: The Right Experience at the Right Time
Assuming a reasonable pool of high potential talent and a rich selection of strategically relevant developmental opportunities, it would seem we've found pig heaven. However, most organizations need to view results and that given the opportunities without appropriate experiences does not yield short-term results. The simplest way is to send someone to a program than to offer up a talented person for an assignment in a different part of the organization or risking sacrificing results if a developmental candidate selected.

Point 4: Increasing the odds that learning will occur.
If we are intent on throwing people into fires-even the right people into the right fires at the right time-then it behooves us to do what we can to insure that they learn what we threw them in there to learn. We have plenty of tools to measure and help managers to learn. Just name it 360-degree feedback instruments, internal/external coaches, educational programs of shape and size, books with full of development advice, motivational speakers and many more others. No doubt each mechanism introduced can be extremely powerful. The issue is with all these resources available still so many managers manage to maintain mediocrity. Bottom lines, bosses are so important to development and so few are very good at it- it requires significant wisdom to assist to unleash their potential. Sometimes, we figured, perhaps boss who needs the coaching more than the person being developed! That translates at a minimum a person who wants to develop needs the information tools and opportunities to do so.

Point 5: A Career-long Perspective and a Focus on Transitions
Most organizations often position time and resources are always limited and development of talent as important as it is not the first priority. They often think business profits and revenue would be the main focus, but they forgot if there are no experience, capable and talented candidates the results will stays stagnant. Often most people suggested allocating all resources in one place with the greatest potential impact would be any business strategic choice. It is about our careers and being present at key transitions, connecting what we know about effectively using experience for development with the individuals. Size of an organization would differ in terms of workforce, making a focus on individuals challenging as the number of employees grows larger but more or less knowing what need to be recorded would be critical.

In conclusion, taking leadership development seriously means using experience wisely to help those with sufficient dedication and desire to learn the craft, obviously not a simple task.

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