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Learning and Development Challenges

Traditional leader development programs fail to deliver desired mastery, because the three vital components of learning — learning from experts, learning from experience, and learning from others — are separate in and separated from development programs.


Why does learning from experts fail to deliver mastery?


The typical leadership development program involves bringing a group of adults physically together in faculty-led classroom settings. The group spends one or two days with subject matter experts who supply content through lectures, case studies, break-out exercises, and simulations.  


Adults learners are filled with a lifetime of experience and knowledge, yet many instructors design content using pedagogy. Pedagogy is the method of instruction to educate the inexperienced young. Leadership development requires expertly crafted andragogy, the method of instructing adults. Content not specifically designed for experienced adults is much less likely to simulate leadership mastery. 


No matter how insightful the content, the program ends, the experts leave, and participants return to their jobs now a day or more behind in the demands of their workflow. This back-up of work creates great pressure to focus on catching up, which dramatically constrains application and reflection of the content, thereby undermining leadership mastery.


Why does learning from experience fail to deliver mastery?


Learning from experience can be a rich source of learning that develops mastery as individuals engage in challenging experiences, reflect on the outcomes, and set improvement goals. In fact, research estimates that nearly 70% of all leadership development occurs on the job. 


Unfortunately, learning on the job typically fails to deliver mastery when leadership challenges are complex and novel, which is an increasingly common occurrence in all organizations. In such situations, biases and thinking traps are prevalent and corrupt reflection and learning from experience.


A further challenge comes from the gap between academic and conceptual knowledge and the practical knowledge of solving problems and getting things done in organizations. Learning from experience fails if an individual is unable to successfully leap across this gap. 


Why does learning from others fail to deliver mastery?

Peer learning, as well as mentoring and coaching, offer vital ways to develop leadership ability. Learning from others works best when trust runs deep, effective coaching is modeled and emulated, communication is made easy through common language and experiences, and mutual commitments to consistently give and receive coaching are made by all. These prerequisites unleash the possibilities of developing mastery by learning from others.


Sadly, these prerequisites are difficult to achieve and are not commonly produced by traditional leadership development programs. Few individuals know how to effectively coach or mentor, let alone know the difference between the two. Language and terminology are surprisingly uncommon in organizations, especially when individuals sit in different functional groups and accumulate dissimilar experiences. Mutual promises often do not become commitments unless a common experience or some other factor makes them achievable.


Good news!


Recognizing these myriad challenges, EPC Learning Labs created a ground-breaking approach to accelerating mastery that overcomes all of these challenges. Click “return” to learn about our innovative approach to leadership development.

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