Scenario: Non-leaders

As an Action Learning Coach how would you handle the following situation:

Some members don’t see the need to practice a leadership skill since they are not leaders.

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Comments (17)

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    Edwin

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    It depends on what’s the definition of leadership is to these folks. Maybe set it up by clearly defining it for them.

    Or consider calling it something else, not leadership skills. Just a skill you would like to develop in this action learning session.

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    Sofia Georgiadou

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    My intention would be to help the group talk about the added value of each practicing a leadership competence.

    I would ask: We hear some members not seeing the value of practicing a leadership skill since they are not leaders. What do the rest of you think? What is your understanding about practicing a leadership competence?
    What are the components of AL? (I would bring back on screen the slide with the AL components) Which component is addressed through practicing leadership competences?
    How can practicing a leadership competence help you as individuals?
    How can practicing a leadership competence help you as a group?
    How can practicing a leadership competence help you as an organization?
    In AL, who is expected to practice a leadership competence?
    Team, in AL, is practicing a leadership skill negotiable?
    So, what do you want to do about it?

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    jesslyn.chow

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    My intention would be to help them see and understand that there are different levels of leadership.
    I would then ask:
    How would the team define ‘a leader’?
    What are some of the skills that you deem are necessary to achieve your set goals in today’s environment?
    How can you ensure continued success in your current capacity?
    How shall we proceed from here?

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      Abhinav

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      I would intervene by saying How can practicing a leadership skill help you as individuals even if you are not leaders?

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      zhangxi

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      i would ask the group some questions, for example: How can we define the leader? Do you think ,what is the leadership? who has the leadership? Then, I want to explain the define of leadership in order to let team member understand the leadership.

      Reply

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    pdlinker

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    I would take the opportunity to reinforce leadership as a behavior rather than a noun….”How do you demonstrate leadership on your team or in your business?; “How do you demonstrate leadership every day in your role?”

    We have worked very hard in our organization to convey that everyone has the capacity to be a leader and that it is not a job title that makes you a leader. Our leadership model encourages this direction. Still there are lingering perceptions held when in the group there are those who are designated as leaders by title.

    To help avoid these questions, I would make sure that leadership competencies are presented at the beginning as appropriate for all and talk about leadership framed as something we all need in our toolbox to be effective contributors to the organization.

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    JaxJM

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    I am fortunate that in the organization where I work there is an expectation that “everyone is a leader” is part of company values. Even without that, I might ask the group to comment, or might ask the question “how are leadership skills demonstrated by people not in leadership positions?” and see where the discussion goes.

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    Bernadette Chua

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    This situation is a common occurrence in many workplace teams where many perceive practicing leadership skills as belonging to the leaders in the organisation. It provides an excellent learning opportunity for a mindset shift in the team. I would encourage the team to share on what leadership constitute, what it means for them personally and how practicing the leaderships skills can create value for them on a personal and professional basis. By broadening the context of how the leadership skills could be applied, it would help encourage the members to practice it mindfully and not begrudgingly.

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    Cleo Wolff

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    I also agree with Patsy. We need to be sure at the right beginning explaining that those are skills we can practice in all day long at the organization. But if someone asks that, I would say exactly that: we can define as leadership skills or communication skills or reflection skills. The most important is that the commitment to practice the skill chosen will help you to develop yourself as an individual and as part of a team. You can then take your learning to your organizational environment.

    Cleo

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    heathertan

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    Typically, I will managed this upfront with my clients during the consultation process. I will ask for the leadership competencies that the company wants the team to practice during the AL and seek clarification on how the company communicate and practiced these competencies (i.e. for both individual contributors and leaders). During the briefing to the team to explain AL, I will reiterate the company’s position regarding the competencies and how they apply to both individual contributors and leaders and take the questions that may come up. I may also have a small group activity where the participants are asked to identify 3 to 5 of the competencies and discuss how individual contributor and leaders will practice each competency to enable them to be successful in their role.

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    Stan Oawster

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    I appreciate the discussion here, very helpful. As part of the process it is helpful to start off the first meeting with a charter form (ground rules). Using this document we would come to an agreement on established norms, one of these being self-development. Whether it is called leadership skills, self-development, interpersonal skills etc it should be talked about when creating norms. Questions such as How does the team see this? Why is development important to you? the team? the organization? How does the team want to handle this?

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    DrBea

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    Agree with everyone!

    I too work with clients upfront to identify the list of skills they would like team members to pick from.

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

    Reply

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    Stephanie

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    As a coach, I have made it a practice to explain Action Learning as a 50:50 experience – 50% problem solving and 50% development. Additionally – the Action Learning competencies are alwasy posted and selected prior to starting the AL process. In this situation I may ask the team: “of the knowlege, skills, and abilitities listed, which ones would be helpful for this team to use in addressing this problem? …..and why? I then may ask, What are your thoughts from this discussion?

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    Han Ee

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    One of the components of Action Learning is a Commitment to Learning.
    The argument that they will not be leaders in the future is a tough sell.
    I would invite them to describe how else they would demonstrate a commitment to learning.

    As previously mentioned, alot of it has to do with setting up the session. This has to be contracted explicitly with the sponsor as a requirement. In fact, it is in the interest of the sponsor to have this requirement for the sake of staff development.

    On another note, if someone says that they are not leaders, the response in itself is worth an intervention. “Is this response common at work?”, “What is the impact on others when colleagues state that they are not leaders?”

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    Scott

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    I have encountered this question during one of my AL sessions and saw it as an opportunity to motivate the individuals to be open to learning new skills and enhancing the skills of the group with their values participation and input. I suggested to the group that even though they might not see themselves as a leader could it be that others see them as leaders even if they weren’t aware? Upon reflection I would also have liked to add that practising these skills and listening to other group members reasons for wishing to practice a particular skill can only improve their own learnings, not only in the workplace but in everyday life.

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    Carla Derijck

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    During the introduction of AL I sometimes use the word personel leadership as a motivation for team members to open to the idea that everyone is a leader. I do believe it is important to appoint how leadership skills contribute to the learning of the whole team. Upon reflection I would ask the team how the chosen leadership skill helped the team to solve the problem.

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    leocastillo

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    This tells me that the participants may be coming from a “set definition” of what a leader is (usually a person of authority).

    If I receive this question, I could start with “How do we define a leader?”

    I would expect one of them would use the authority definition, and it is likely that one of them will use a definition that does not use “authority”. If they all say authority, I can throw out “other than authority, what are other possible definitions of a leader?”.

    From there I can work with their definitions and ask “is it possible to be a leader who is not an authority?” From there is should be relatively easier for them to accept a leadership skill to practice for the session.

    Reply

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