With time, the environments change and the working styles of people change too. So quick adherence to the changes in environment is vital for the success and this paper will address the learning requirements of the leaders.
The leaders of a team or a company should be an example. They must be able to guile others through example. They must be willing to learn, able to handle uncertainties and most importantly, able to learn, able to facilitate foster management and make decisions in line with the environment.
The leader’s willingness to learn is important as if he is not learning day by day, then his ability to lead would be less effective as it does not go hand in hand with the changes in the environment. This willingness to learn profoundly involves evaluating both the internal and external environments as both can influence and be influenced by the leader’s decisions, specially the internal environment.
As per Supovitz and Christman (2005), one of the primary learning needs of the leaders of an organization or a team is to understand the external environment that they are operating in so that the leader will be able to make a categorization on the factors that are within the control of the leaders and the factors that are not under the control of the leaders.
There are many different ways that the leaders of an organization can get to know of the external environment that they are working in. One option for them would be the personal observations of the areas that are having an immense impact on the work. The discussion with the team on these observations will add immense value to the learning aspect of the leaders as the managers will be able to get more information and understanding of the thinking pattern of the rest of the employees of the team or rather the company (Conger and Benjamin 1999).
On the other hand, the information collected from the customers on the services provided will be good information from the economic and social aspects. Specially the information gathered from the customer satisfaction surveys and customer opinion polls can be very useful for the learning purposes as they tend to give an idea about how the perceptions of the customers are and how they have changed since the time when company last held such survey. Other than that the publications of the different parties will give insight into the learning needs of the leaders and the managers including the legal aspects of the environment. As the changes of the government policies, tax effects, changes in law etc. directly impact the operations of the organization, the leaders have to be aware of those facts as it is on those facts they should make decisions and it is on their decisions the company depends.
In the technological fronts, the leaders and the managers have to update their knowledge and should be able to provide proper guidance to the rest of the team (Marquardt and Revans 1999).
Unlike the internal environment, the external environment is out of the control of the organization and thereby definitely the leaders have to adjust their decisions in accordance with the changes in external environment.
The PESTEL analysis tool can be adopted by the leaders to understand the external environment, its changes with time, its trends and possible future changes. This is a broad analysis which trys to capture all the aspects in the environment with regard to the organization. This analysis can be carried out only f the leaders are willing to learn from the environment and adjust themselves accordingly.
The learning in the internal environment will be woven around the strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and the threats. This is where the learning needs of the leaders come on the ground from the end of the soft skills and professional skills.
As Bass (2000), the leaders have to be very competent in the subject area that they are working on, and any lack of knowledge should be identified as a weakness and a learning need. Identifying these learning needs is the challenge and the leaders and the team members are adults, and certain psychological aspects need to be looked at which are as follows.
• The willingness to change
• Accepting the mistakes
• Desire to learn and
• Open for criticism
Despite the internal environment is under the control of the organization and leaders, it is also subject to change and hence a proper attention should be given to understand those changes. If the leaders are not wanting and willing to get the knowledge of the changes, then their decisions would not be appropriate and thereby the organizations they are leading may not go in the correct direction. Leaders can probably use SWOT analysis for internal environment analysis.
According to Gavin (1985), there are few things that need to be paid the attention to the discussion of the learning leaders. The leaders who are willing to take up a challenge and do the needful to achieve the team objective are looked as proactive leaders and are ready to learn. The leaders who are not willing to take an extra mile to chase behind and extract whatever the knowledge that is lacking from their side will not add any value to organization as well as to themselves.
This concern for the learning will ensure a person having all the above mentioned four qualities of a learning leader; willingness to learn, ability to handle uncertainties and most importantly, ability to learn, ability to facilitate foster management and make decisions in line with the environment.
On the other hand, the soft skills also need to pay attention when it comes to the learning of the leaders. Being excellent in the technical side of the project alone does not make a leader very attractive for the rest of the team, but the team handling skills and the management skills of the leader is critical too. These different learning needs can be categorized into the above four strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats sections and should be addressed carefully (Bass 1991).
Every leader, no matter how good his profile is, should ensure that he is a learning leader, in order to be effective in guiding the organization and his subordinates. What I have learnt from this unit is that only the learning leaders would make their organizations prosper; if others would be able to do so without learning, it would merely be the luck.
Bass, BM 2000, ‘The future of leadership in learning organizations’, Journal of leadership & organizational studies, vol.7, no.3, pp.18-40.
Bass, BM 1991, ‘From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the vision’, Organizational dynamics, vol. 18, no.3, pp.19-31.
Conger, JA & Benjamin, B 1999, Building leaders: How successful companies develop the next generation.’
Garvin, DA 1985, ‘Building a learning organization’, Org Dev &Trng, 6E (Iae), 274.
Marquardt, MJ & Revans, RW 1999, ‘Action learning in action: Transforming problems and people for world-class organizational learning’, Davies-Black Pub.
Supovitz, JA & Christman, JB 2005, Small learning communities that actually learn: Lessons for school leaders’, Phi Delta Kappan, vol. 86, no. 9, pp.649.