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The Developmental Learning Process

In our developmental leadership model, individuals set out to become competent to lead groups, teams, and entire organizations. It is a given that becoming a role model leader requires strong motivation. How does a motivated individual progress from aspiring to achieving the competencies of a role model leader? What change process is at work here? What must the aspiring leader do?

The developmental learning process has many facets: discipline; onand off-the-job learning; mentoring; and drive, which is a relection of the individual's own character. Each of these facets can be illustrated. In a disciplined learning process, there are teachers and teaching aids. The teachers here are often other leaders – those who have progressed (and are continuing to do so), those who have reached a level of recognized competence, and those who have demonstrated their value-add in the organization. In a conventional organization, the senior managers assign objectives to others. Most of them do not teach. Instead, they leave it to the human resources department or to training programs or they expect employees to teach themselves or, in many cases, they expect employees to know enough and not need to learn more. In the developmental organization, by contrast, all people are teachers. I will be describing this high-performance teaming process in part three; in high-performance organizations, the method of “teach, learn, teach” is a key component of teams. All meetings

– indeed, almost all encounters – have “teaching moments” designed into them.

DuPont Canada maintained a rotating group of ive to nine people (we can call them facilitators) who were expert at and focused on developmental learning – on coaching people in how to learn. They were recruited from all of the company's various functional areas – engineering, R&D, manufacturing, and so on. All of the developmental teachers were highly motivated role model leaders who were expert in the concepts of Everyone a Leader as described in this book. They were available to facilitate learning within teams and working groups across the company. After a time in the rotating group, they returned to their usual tasks in the departments from which they had been recruited. The time they spent teaching leadership to others was a learning experience for them as well as for others.

Role Model Leader Designation

“Role model leader” is not a diploma, an exam passed, an award, or a qualitative measure; rather, it is a label assigned, sometimes unconsciously, to leaders by those who see them as role models. When your team is working with a role model leader, you will notice it soon enough. You will admire the person, trust her, be open to her inluence, and so on. And you will recognize her as a role model leader largely because you are taking steps to become one yourself. Role model leadership, then, is a relection of an individual's high level of learned competence; it is not a position. To extend this, the presence of a role model leader is a relection of the progress of the organization as a whole.

Everyone working with Kalev Pugi knew he was a role model leader. We did not use that term – it simply wasn't in our minds – but we still knew he was one. Kalev did not know he was a role model leader, but he knew he was motivated to be a better leader every day. To enlist in a common cause, people must believe that the leader is competent to guide them where they're headed … If they doubt the person's abilities, they're unlikely to join the crusade.

Kouzes and Posner, The Leadership Challenge1

The rest of part two discusses the learning required to progress towards the state of role model leading and leadership. A inal note before we start: the developmental leadership model teaches us that the development of individual leading and leadership competence is the precursor for successful organizational development. The organization's people will be developing themselves and their organization at the same time. Developmental learning within the organization as a whole is enhanced by the rapid development of the individuals who comprise it.

Leadership Competency Model

The leadership competency model describes the capabilities that an aspiring leader requires in order to become a role model leader (see Figure 2.4). The focus will be on three terms: skills, character, and behaviour. A person's competence as a leader is a relection of the cascading sum of these and how well they are integrated to create the competence required of the individual role model leader.

Skills: The capabilities that allow the leader to function effectively – that is, to do things.

Character: The inner human attributes that prepare the leader to function effectively.

Behaviour: Expressions of the person's motivation to prepare him / herself to function as a leader.

Individual leading competency: The total, integrated expression of skills, character, and behaviour.

1 James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge, 3rd ed. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003), 29. These elements, once learned – and learned well – deine the role model leader. In this part of the book I will be discussing them as qualities that aspiring leaders can learn. That is, they are what leaders learn to do and be; they relect how leaders prepare themselves to become exceptional; they suggest why such people are willing to dedicate themselves to learning to become role models for others.

The above elements, all together, are what deine role model leaders. The important point here is that they are linked – a change in one results in some degree of change in the others. That is a good thing, because a positive change in any one of these will measurably improve the others and, it follows, the individual's overall competence as a leader.

Interestingly, an individual who is following might sense a high level of leadership skill called “honesty”; another might sense, in the same leader, a high level of behaviour called “honesty”; still another, a high level of character called “honesty.” They are all sensing the same positive attribute, yet they experience and relect on it in different ways.

As we all must have experienced when following a leader, we can always tell when a positive attribute is not present. There are too many so-called leaders who do not have the competence of role model leadership, and these people cannot hide. And their followers have no dificulty articulating which speciic skills, character attributes, and behaviours that these leaders are lacking. In so doing, the followers reinforce the need to further develop these characteristics in themselves.

The developmental leadership philosophy is deined by Everyone a Leader. In other words, everyone, whatever they are doing at any point, whether it is leading, managing, or following, is learning to become more competent in the skills, character attributes, behaviours, and thinking capabilities deined and discussed here.

In practical terms, in any group, team, or organization, some will be more motivated to learn than others, and some will learn more rapidly than others. Some will be able to dedicate more mental, emotional, social, and physical energy than others to the task. An organization that is dedicated to developmental learning will, at any given time, have people with growing leading and leadership competence, but they will be progressing at their own pace. There will be people at different levels of competence.

The ideal state, in our model of role model leading competence, is a moving target.


 
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