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Insights in Leadership from Action Learning

September 10 2018 - by Lois Parkes, CLP's Regional Project Manager

Action Learning is among the suite of tools used in the Caribbean Leadership Project’s Leadership Development Programmes. Action learning in a nutshell “…is a process that involves a small group working on real problems, taking action, and learning as individuals, as a team, and as an organization. It helps organizations develop creative, flexible and successful strategies to pressing problems.”[i]

I recently had the opportunity to serve as an action learning coach to a work team within a public sector organization in the Caribbean. This turned out to be a transformative experience for the team, as they found several breakthrough solutions to the challenge that needed to be addressed. In the process of coaching the team, there were several insights that were reaffirmed the power and benefits of action learning:

  • Power of reflection – Action learning requires deliberate reflection on one’s behaviours and that of others. In the sessions, persons found it easier to observe others, but far more challenging to deliberately observe their own behaviour. This type of self-reflection at first was uncomfortable for some. However, it became easier with practice, and with more self-reflection, came a greater sense of self-control, as well as increased comfort and skill in observing behaviours and giving and receiving feedback about same. With increased reflection and giving and receiving of feedback, the team reported later that their team functioning and performance improved significantly, as they gained more real time feedback to make improvements.
  • Power of Intentionality – One of the requirements of Action learning is that participants have to select a leadership skill that they would like to work on in the process. For many participants, one of the breakthroughs for them was that leadership skills can be deliberately developed and practiced, and that they – the individual – had the agency to intentionally practice effective leadership. This runs counter to the self-defeating belief that exists too often which says that, “This is just the way I am,” or “I’m too old to change.” Once persons recognized that leadership is a choice that they had the power to make, it opened up greater possibilities for engagement, self-accountability, improved motivation and performance.

If you remember nothing else from this blog, remember this – Leadership is a choice that you have the power to make. What kind of leader will you choose to be? You are invited to share your reflections and feedback.



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Hillary Stuart-Alexander - Reply

I, too, was involved in this project as a coach. I can most certainly attest to the transformations and breakthroughs in perceptions, confidence levels and commitment to "live inspired leadership" - achieved through deep reflection and experiential learning. 

Lois Parkes

Thanks for your feedback, Hillary


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