Learning and Leading to Enable Others to Act
Recently, I participated in a Chief Learning Officers Breakfast Club meeting in San Francisco. The discussion, led by some of the best and brightest in the Learning Industry and Silicon Valley, was lively and inspiring. What struck me most was hearing their views on how Learning and Development (L & D) is shifting to new ideas and opportunities and especially on how L & D professionals can be the process managers and enablers.
One example of this came from Stuart Crabb, Head of L & D with Facebook, who talked about their approach to the younger generations. First of all, 70% of Facebook employees were born post-1979. Their Millennials and Generation Xers expect and demand collaboration and feedback like never before. Secondly, experts on the generations tell us that Millennials in particular are a generation in search of mentors, they respond well to coaching, and they prefer working in teams with a generational mix. So, Facebook launched what they call “coaching circles.” According to Crabb, these circles have been successful in teaching employees how to have coaching conversations, and seeing the results has been heartening.
I suspect this is true because of the impact coaching has on enabling others to act, one of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® identified by Kouzes and Posner in The Leadership Challenge. Leaders who coach help others learn how to use their talents and skills, thus increasing their confidence. Furthermore, according to Kouzes and Posner, when leaders coach they not only educate, they “share power with others,” thus “demonstrating profound trust in and respect for others’ abilities.” When Learning and Development professionals facilitate collaboration and coaching opportunities within their organizations, they strengthen others, one of the two leadership commitments that enable others to act.
Facebook currently has 30 active coaching circles—successfully evangelized by past grads of the coaching circles. Interestingly, even Mark Zuckerberg got coaching from a 20-year-old, thus giving “wise elders” a whole new meaning within their workforce.
I couldn’t help thinking that ever since men (or women) did cave drawings there has been a need to curate stories and find ways to harness the sense of community (collaborate) through learning. And, as we—all learning professionals—departed, we did so with a heightened sense of how important it is to inspire a learning culture and to be those curators, inspirers and enablers.
How will you enable others to act in 2012? We welcome your thoughts.