Imagine you are an emerging or new leader and your boss has offered to send you on a week-long leadership development course.
Now imagine the course you are going to attend has also been attended by her, your boss. You will be learning and experiencing what she learnt and experienced.
Now, really stretch your mind and imagine she will be attending the course with you, as your coach!
What an investment in your future.
And the reason you are attending the course together? You will be working on current and future real business situations, situations affecting your organization today. You and your boss will be working together to address, solve, improve, increase, enhance the issue, concern, problem, opportunity facing your organization – together.
This is challenge-based learning – applying newly learned skills and capabilities to current and future business challenges.
Participating in challenge-based learning is a critical component of today’s leadership – no matter where you sit on the organization chart. Challenge-based learning is all about the application of skills to real-life issues, issues the organization’s leadership needs to address to continue to grow and be successful. As a new or emerging leader, being able to apply learned skills to your own situation, affords you the opportunity to contribute to both your, and your organization’s, success.
Challenge-based learning provides you with the skills to continually grow and develop, to have the courage to take risks and learn from any mistakes you make while taking these risks. It teaches you to appreciate others’ knowledge and experience and to reach out to them for guidance and support. And it raises your confidence level so you will be encouraged to share your knowledge and expertise with others to help them grow and develop.
How does one build challenge-based learning into the learning development curriculum for leaders?
They begin by asking some basic questions.
1. What does the organization’s leadership need to achieve and why?
2. What does the organization’s leadership want to address today and where do they want to take the organization tomorrow?
3. What does the organization’s leadership view as the roles and responsibilities of new and emerging leaders? What specific skills and capabilities do they want them to have and be able to effectively demonstrate and apply?
These business issues, situations, views, skills, and capabilities are used to build the training outline. The key – customization of leadership training where actual situations are captured and addressed.
Building training outlines must include different types of challenge-based learning products. A reputable third-party provider of leadership training will utilize different tools and techniques to simulate actual business situations. Various methods for application, outside of the formal training situation, will be used before, during, and after the training program.
1. Case studies: Providers of custom leadership training programs work with the leadership group to build cases relevant to their workplace. The cases include an issue, problem, or opportunity to be addressed. Solutions or actions recommended, during the program, are applicable back on the job.
2. Projects: Establishment of project teams with actual project assignments provide real-life challenges for the training participants. As a member of a project team, they learn project management skills as well as how to effectively implement a project. Additional benefits accrue from being part of a team and learning and applying sound team leadership and membership skills.
3. Leadership plans: Providing participants with the opportunity to build personal leadership plans helps them to pursue their career development path. As they apply their plans, they are enhancing their role in their organization.
4. Team leadership skills: Tools such as leader journals, team activities, and skills assessments are great ways to practice and apply team skills. Custom leadership programs include a variety of these tools and ensure the concepts learned are easily applicable to the participant’s environment.
5. Mentoring relationships: These relationships are often established outside of the formal leadership program but they can be designed during the program and applied on the job. The value of establishing a mentoring relationship is the new leader will continue their learning and development outside of the formal learning situation.
If you and your boss attend the challenge-based learning program together, they will be able to practice their coaching skills with you, on the spot. This is an opportunity for you to experience coaching first-hand, providing you with the knowledge and skills to apply with your employees. Whether your team is onsite or remote, application of a solid coaching process builds skills and capabilities for both you and others in your workplace.
Challenge-based learning provides leaders with tools, techniques, and team skills to tackle actual business situations. It is experiential training which provides immediate and measurable results.