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Leadership Learning Principles...

Core leadership learning principles, values, assumptions and change thinking inform our approach to design and delivery and ensure quality, consistency and a high standard of ethics, behaviour and professionalism in our consulting approach and how we conduct relationships with clients.

   Leadership Learning Principles...

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The ‘Value’ of Leadership: Leaders exert a profound impact as prime ‘meaning-makers’, ‘values-stewards’, galvanisers and ‘emotional amplifiers’’ on the performance, culture, values and emotional climate of the people around them. Building leadership capacity is a central concern for forward-thinking organisations. This means sharpening the capabilities of current ‘positional’ leaders but it also involves building deeper leadership capabilities and values at all levels - not just for formal leaders but others who exert leadership influence throughout an organisation who are not part of the hierarchy.

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Leadership is becoming more ‘Learning-centred’: More and more organisations now see the close connection between leadership and learning for success. Leaders are instrumental in creating the climate for – and modelling the move to – high performing work cultures that learn. And learning is central to being an effective leader and to building the capacity for others to learn and achieve quality outcomes. More leaders now recognise the need to move out of traditional ‘positional’ and ‘agency-bound’ boxes and learn to collaborate, work and learn across boundaries, using learning as a lever for culture change and engagement with their own people and the broader community.

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Personal Leadership Mastery: More leaders now connect successful outcomes with their own level of personal mastery - the ability to ‘tune into themselves’, manage their own thinking and learn new skills, tools and approaches that differ dramatically from the old mental models of management. Static leadership models concentrate on fixed lists of leadership functions and attributes people are asked to emulate. Dynamic, learning-centred leadership hinges on the ability to change mindsets/behaviour, achieve greater self-awareness; help people reflect on the impact their mental models have and facilitate people in thinking together and conducting more meaningful dialogues. This means developing deeper capabilities concerned with self-awareness, emotional intelligence, cognitive and conceptual agility and systemic thinking.

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Thinking Literacy: Self-direction, self-responsibility and self-control are the foundations for self-managed, learning individuals and can only happen when teams and leaders are empowered to participate meaningfully in learning and improvement initiatives. All of our programs also run against a background of the importance of mental models and ‘thinking change’ as the basis for fundamental cognitive shifts that enable other change to occur – both at individual, team and organisational level.

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New Roles for Learning Leaders: The conventional notion of leaders as ‘special people’ who invent the vision, set directions, make the key decisions and come up with the ideas is deeply rooted in individualistic mental models of charismatic leadership. In information-rich, networked and complex, collective cultures, no single person can be expected to have all the answers. The leader’s new roles in this environment are increasingly about leveraging learning to mobilise coalitions, network, challenge prevailing mental models, develop shared solutions and visions and create a supportive environment which unleashes innovation and learning potential in others. Leaders become networkers, mobilisers, facilitators, coaches, values-stewards and engagers.

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Managers are key Drivers of Change:  Managers need to develop new notions of leadership which involve a major move from being organisers and controllers to being facilitators, leaders, vision and direction-setters, being willing to model fundamental roles shifts needed in a learning culture, share learning and involve others in their workplace. But they also need grounding in learning organisation concepts and time to individually reflect, internalise and grapple with what it mean in terms of roles, relationships, behaviour change and operating principles, before they commit to action or take the lead in putting tools into practice.

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Incorporating work-based action-learning: The Action-Learning Cycle is a major model that underpins our leadership learning and coaching approach. Using processes that interlace theory and practice, feature relevant application of learning to real-time workplace improvement (ie. not just theory) and emphasise "doing things with learning – not just learning without doing anything", is a critical design principle behind our approach.

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Adjusting Organisation Architecture: New, more innovative forms of work organisation are needed to support and sustain long-term learning and improvement, calling for more integrated and flexible structures and systems that facilitate the creation and exchange of knowledge and learning across organisational boundaries. One reason change fails is a lack of know-how or refusal to change old work patterns, systems, structures and mental models that get in the way. At whatever level, Learning-Centred Leaders constantly look for more innovative, efficient and flexible ways of re-organising work processes and procedures to meet ever-changing improvement challenges. Any leadership learning should involve some coverage review of existing structures, systems and work processes to ensure they are congruent with sustaining learning.

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Integrating Corporate Focus and Relevance: Learning must integrate with overall vision, needs a clear, unified set of principles and should make linkages that are visible and comprehensible to leaders, who need to be able to relate what is being learned directly to learning challenges, problem situations and goals in their own specific workplaces. We integrate customer values, visions and business strategies and try to complement/incorporate existing change initiatives.

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Participative Learning Processes: 'Learner-directed not consultant-driven' is another key value behind our approach – working in partnership with organisations, following a collaborative model with learners and using extensive participative processes to promote direct involvement and self-responsibility for designing and directing their own learning. We always build in learner-centred flexibility, choice and self-direction into our processes, consistent with the values/principles of adult learning and learning organisation practice and emphasise skills transfer to staff and managers, teams and facilitators through training, coaching and provision of learning materials which ensure processes are well documented and skills are passed on.

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Team-based Learning: Team-based work is part of every learning leader’s landscape. Facilitating formation of cohesive, flexible, responsive teams with commitment to what they do and to improving it; that work collaboratively across boundaries and constantly rethink and re-invent how they work and learn together is a fundamental expectation of managers-as-change-leaders. A focus on team-based learning is something we encourage whether working in individual/group coaching situations (eg. managers involving their team as a learning practice circle or "teaming up" on work-based activities around common interest learning themes).

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Accent on Culture & Relations: Change can only be sustained when there is meaningful culture change and relational work. Leadership roles increasingly involve roles of facilitator, linker, vision-setter, mentor/coach and relationship builder, where people need to pay more careful attention to the relational, ‘below the green line’ people issues that underscore the eventual success (or failure) of technical/operational/systems/structural adjustments made. Our leadership-learning and coaching incorporates personal, relationship work and encourages cultural change as an ‘enabling background’.

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Innovation - the Value of Curiosity: Future leaders increasingly will be called on to handle ambiguity and uncertainty. Leaders need to cultivate an experimental mind-set in both themselves and others – sparked by curiosity and risk-taking and a solid determination to learn (or un-learn) from each experiment. All innovation arises from new paradigms and re-conceptualisations, which requires mental agility and the ability to think systemically. Leaders are not always the innovators themselves – so it is crucial they have the relational skills to nurture this quality in others.

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 Leaders needs tools: Leaders need new tools and processes to make a positive contribution to these more flexible and fluid forms of learning if they are to use learning to change and respond more quickly to successive change challenges. Our coaching emphasises being transparent about the tools we use and injecting specific learning tools into the coaching/action learning process for people to try out and experiment with.

 

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