Thursday, December 03, 2009

Leadership Development: Action and Experiential Learning and Peer Coaching

Organizations searching for ways to maximize their Leadership Development programs and minimize the costs associated with these programs can consider Action and Experiential Learning and Peer Coaching as business focused methods.

Action Learning involves a group of people meeting to share knowledge with each other. Action Learning may take place either as a case study or as a current business situation that all group members contribute their expertise to resolve. Groups brought together for Action Learning will have various levels of experience, skills and knowledge.

Experiential Learning takes place when group members act on the proposals arising out of their Action Learning project. The group regularly meets to review the outcomes of these actions and will make any corrections necessary as they learn from the process.

These groups can function without a facilitator, however the experience will be enhanced by assigning a facilitator that can act as a group mentor. The group facilitator (mentor) should be a more experienced member of the organization that is skilled at ensuring that groups stay on track and can provide advice if appropriate.

This process has similarities to the Project Management process in which a Project Manager develops a detailed plan to accomplish a specific objective. The members of the group act as a team to accomplish a goal, make mid-course corrections when appropriate and conduct post mortems at the end of the project. The main difference between Project Management and Action Learning is the Action Learning group develops their plan as a group rather than carrying out the plan of a Project Leader.

Action Learning groups can also develop a Peer Coaching offshoot to provide important, though less tactical development opportunities. In Peer Coaching each participant acts as both a coach and a coachee. The participants in the group are thinking partners and provide support and knowledge to each other. It is a developmental activity based on observations. The relationships are based on trust, collaboration and accountability. A good overview of the Peer Coaching process can be found at: