The Mission of Leadership is to Build a Learning Organization

The Mission of Leadership is to Build a Learning Organization

Does your organization make space and time for groundbreaking ideas, innovation and inspiration?

Co-Written by:

Dr. John A Passante

President & CEO, The Organizational Development Group, Inc.
Author, The Human Side: High Touch Leadership in a High-Tech World

Adjunct Professor, Northwood University—The University of the Aftermarket

Dr. Thomas Litzinger

Executive Director, Northwood University—The University of the Aftermarket

Professor, Northwood University

In today’s ever-changing world, learning is the North Star, guiding organizations and employees to actively embrace learning. There is a magic that occurs when employees are encouraged to be curious and enjoy the thrill of learning. Learning enhances our lives, business relationships, and in fact, empowers us. To reflect opens our minds to past experiences and the possibilities of a new and exciting future. The question is: How can an organization improve without first learning something new, which is a precursor to continuous improvement, and unleashes the power of human creativity and positive “can-do” energy?

Hearken back and remember your favorite teacher or college professor who made learning enjoyable and lit the fire of being a lifelong learner. To grow, we all need to learn and adapt to our ever-changing world and industry. The pandemic was a real example of the need to adapt. Knowledge and learning are pivotal to adaptation. The first step is to make continuous learning a strategic priority. We learn by teaching each other.             

Peter Senge, author of “The Fifth Discipline: The Art of the Learning Organization,” defines a learning organization as those that “encourage adaptive and generative learning, encouraging their employees to think outside the box and work in conjunction with other employees to find the best answer to any problem.” Indeed, our business world is getting more complex. The traditional way of doing business is at a crossroads. The solution is to foster and build knowledge, create organization openness, create a varied approach to problem-solving, and share decision-making, power and accountability with all employees.

There is nothing more valuable than new ideas, when employees truly believe that the leadership of the organization will “listen” and take positive action. In essence, a learning organization can retool, adjust, reinvent and learn on the road to improvement, and the professional courage to admit what they do not know. The fact is none of us has all the answers. The thoughts and minds and ideas of employees is the gateway to the company’s future, as well as the key to managing change through learning. Learning nurtures teamwork. As the saying goes, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” 

Does your organization make space and time for groundbreaking ideas, innovation and inspiration?

Seek and commit to a legacy of learning. The truth is the past three years were unprecedented and taught each of us plenty of lessons. It was a period of learning to focus and take care of our employees, customers and the supply chain. Knowledge of the world and business is derived by observation, experimentation that challenges us to try the latest ideas, concepts, approaches and rational analysis. There is no limit to the betterment we can attain if we continue to learn and to apply our knowledge to enhance our organizations and industry.

Team members are actively seeking organizations that are fostering a learning environment. Learning creates knowledge and knowledge promotes a vibrant culture, where team members feel valued and appreciated. Knowledge also promotes increased levels of self-worth and self-esteem. Understanding knowledge and learning in a post-pandemic era has pushed many organizations to the limit as we have witnessed in our communities. Many of our businesses have failed or closed voluntarily because they were unable to adapt to our unique environment. It is essential for organizations to embrace and meet the needs of our changing workforce. Historically, professionals were willing to sacrifice whatever it required for their organizations to be successful and were loyal to a company their entire career. These are reasonable traits and undoubtedly organizations demanded a certain level of performance. 

However, today’s workforce continues to evolve. Professionals are much more likely to change positions and organizations every few years to achieve a desired level of life-satisfaction, work-life balance, and an environment where they feel valued and appreciated. Feeling valued and appreciated contributes to healthy behaviors and performance, healthy behaviors that mirror our values and beliefs also contribute to increased levels of self-esteem and self-worth. Team members who experience increased levels of self-worth are typically more loyal, productive and efficient. Our post-pandemic environment has contributed to many team members feeling isolated and disconnected. Undoubtedly, working remote has been a necessity to keep our teams safe and healthy, and truthfully who truly knows what the future holds for our teams.

It is so important for organizations to realize the importance of keeping their remote team members engaged and feeling that they are an essential ingredient to their team and organization. Numerous professionals cringe at the thought of additional virtual meetings but if framed correctly and dedicated to fostering a learning environment and one of praise and appreciation additional meetings can be beneficial. Brief virtual meetings praising your team and sharing accomplishments are remarkably effective. Praise and appreciation are intrinsically connected to a culture that promotes creativity, individualism and innovation, while creating an organizational structure of personal accomplishment and growth. 

Organizations are confronted with adapting to our current remote workforce and the associated limitations. Organizations that embrace their limitations will continue to thrive in an economy where our challenges are real. Is your organization focused on learning and knowledge?

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