Off late, I am fascinated, with the idea of writing a Job Description for a CEO in an agile organization. What is expected from a CEO of an Agile adopting organization? This led me to think on what can CEO do differently using his / her experience, How can experience be better channelized. Can it help him and the company grow?
A central question that has captured the minds of all researches and educators over the world: What are the processes by which the senior leadership or executives learn, grow and develop themselves of the course of their careers
This blog attempts to provide a guide or some ideas for a framework to understand how Leadership is developed through experience and suggest how leaders can assess and enhance work experience for the future development.
Nothing teaches Leadership like experience, but the benefits of on the job learning are not guaranteed. To maximum the learning and development potential that lies within the work experience, one would need a good plan. One always needs to understand what is one getting out of the experience, what is missing and then how to fill those gaps.
May I introduce a new concept of Return-On-Experience framework. Using the ROE framework, one would actively seek to learn from experience to develop Mastery, Versatility, and Impact. When you apply ROE approach in your work and organization everyday experiences can be transformed into an engine for Leadership development and Organizational impact.
Part of the ROE is a concept of “BUILD, BROADEN, BENEFIT”.
One can create a new learning habit that uses experience to build, broaden and benefit.
Build an Experience based learning can enhance mastery. The development goals to increase your capability by sharpening your existing skills and ability to lead.
Broaden an Experience based learning can enhance versatility. The development goals to increase your repertoire of skills and abilities.
Benefit an Experience based learning can enhance impact. The true measure of learning is your ability to apply it. To have value, learning must be transferable to different situation and to other people.
The build-broaden-benefit concept would allow to view the work through new lens. Often career and development strategies focus on either a higher level of experience or cross-functional learning. ROE concepts connect the two of them. Mastery prepares the leadership for existing and identified challenges. Versatility helps the leadership develop for new and potential unknown challenges – Situation which may be different from ones they have already experienced.
The combination of Mastery and Versatility produces “T-shaped Leader” – someone who possesses high capabilities in a core function /area with board capacities in diverse areas.
When going through an experience, one should always ask these questions:
- What skills am I building?
- How can I broaden my perspective or extend by capability?
- How can my experience and my increased Mastery and Versatility benefit my organization or the project?
If your experiences fall short on developing Mastery, Versatility or impact, the message is clear: It is time to change.
Needs of the Organization
Align your learning experiences with the needs of the organization. What are the strategic challenges and priorities the organization faces? What Leadership skills does it need to meet those challenges?
When your development experiences are aligned to the priorities of the organization, the skills that you develop from the experience go towards building leadership mastery in the ways that have direct relevance to your career and benefits to the organization in the long term.
Your Own Needs
Match development experiences to your needs. Customize your learning agenda based on your own strengths and development needs. An experience that may be developmental for you may not be useful or have the same effect on others. The process of developing Mastery differs by individuals and the context of their work.
Strategies for Building Mastery
- Strategic assignments
- Job rotations
- Action learning projects
Strategies for Building Versatility
- Go vertical
- Reach across
- Engage with outsiders
- Cross geographic boundaries
- Discover new demographics
- Seek cross-cultural experiences
- Cultivate diverse relationships
Benefit: Enhance your Impact
The true measure of learning is your ability to apply it. To value, learning must be transferable to different situations and to other people. Experience based learning can enhance impact. The transfer of learning from experience involves a manager’s application of the lessons learned and transmission of new knowledge to other people in the organization.
At individual level, the lessons learnt are transferred to the context of other work required of the manager. This happens when the leader can apply the lessons learned from an experience to a variety of contexts from one role to another, or to other project, or to new department / function. Impact is enhanced when learner abstracts the leadership principle underlying the knowledge being learned
At the group level, the lessons learnt from experience can be transferred to others through conversations in which a group reflects collectively on an experience or when individual shares the lessons learned from experience with group members. By sharing and practicing new behaviors and skills, managers can transfer the learning they have acquired from experience to other members of the group
At organizational level, the transfer of learnings from experience occurs when learning is codified and used to transform general practice. While difficult to achieve, this is the most powerful benefit of experiential learnings. As leaders transfer their learnings across the organization, they create shortcuts for other leaders to learn the same skills
Create your ROE
- How do you make your learnings visible?
- How do you recognize it for yourself?
- How do you evaluate learning to a relevant discussion with others?
- How do you use lessons learned from experience as a point of differentiation between yourself and others