Leadership Development and Experience

September 5, 2018 by Wally Bock

Vibhas Ratanjee wrote a helpful piece on the Gallup site titled “Experience Reigns in Leadership Development.” Here’s the money quote.

“Gallup finds an alarming deficit in the experience piece. Too few programs can clearly define the experiences that lead to excellence in leadership; they don’t individualize, they can’t match leader to experience at the time it’s most needed, and they don’t help leaders analyze their experiences so they can effectively apply them in the future.”

The article is worth your time. Experienced leaders know that you will learn from experience. That’s a given. The challenge is to get the most from that experience.

Leadership development is better with intentional experience

Many aspiring leaders leave the experience factor mostly to chance. They try to learn as much as they can from the experiences that come their way. That’s good, but it would be better if they sought out experiences that would accelerate their growth.

Other aspiring leaders get plugged into a “rotational” program. They spend a limited amount of time working in different areas to acquire an overview of the entire business. Those programs are good for increasing understanding of the business. They’re not good for developing leadership skills. The aspiring leader doesn’t have enough time to make decisions and learn from the consequences.

Ratanjee does a superb job of outlining how to choose experiences that will accelerate growth. The key word there is “choose.” Choose assignments wisely and you can improve their value to the aspiring leader, especially if you supplement them with coaching support.

Leadership development and learning from experience

There’s one more piece to the growth puzzle. Teach aspiring leaders how to learn from their experience. Help them develop habits of review and reflection that they can use to squeeze as much value as possible from well-chosen assignments.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Leadership Development

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  • Vibhas Ratanjee

    Thanks Wally. Glad this was a useful article.

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