How experiential learning ignites greater humanity in leaders

Do you remember learning about science when you were, say, 11?

You opened the textbook, and you read about dilution, concentration, and the point of saturation. You wrote the keywords down, and then tried desperately to memorise the definitions.

Then, the teacher pulled out a glass, some water, a spoon, and sugar. And then, through the simple experience of putting the sugar in the water, dilution, concentration, and the point of saturation became evidently clear.

The act of doing something creates new neural pathways. You can read something, or listen to someone tell you something. But it’s hard to get your head around something until you do it.

Theory is the acquisition of knowledge; experiential learning turns this knowledge into wisdom, through the act of doing.

Experiential versus traditional

I can tell you how to do something. But you won’t gain the necessary competencies until you do it yourself.

I’ve recently seen a few publications reflecting on leadership and leadership training. They have outlined the strongest and weakest skills amongst learning professionals, explained what learning departments are doing well, and then how they can improve.

To profoundly change the world, we need leaders need to connect with their emerging selves.

But what I find interesting is that in these data points, there is little reflection on experiential learning. And to add to that, the current inability of leadership training to properly develop the leadership competencies that the world needs now.

I truly believe that to profoundly change the world, leaders need to connect with their emerging selves.

They need to know who they are

We are living at a moment of profound disruption, profound volatility, uncertainty,and complexity. We are all trying to adjust to this disruption and looking for our role to respond.

Where we were different to where we are going.

For decades the world has been calling out for inspiration and effective leadership – leaders who can transcend adversity and challenge the dysfunctional status quo that is so glaringly apparent.

And yet, billions are spent every year on leadership training – but do we believe that the current traditional learning landscape is creating leaders to have the necessary competencies needed to respond to the challenges of our world faces? Is this training being delivered as effectively as it could be?

Perhaps there are a few things to reflect on here.

I would say that it is impossible to unleash this potential in leaders through traditional theoretical learning alone. We need an approach that includes experiential learning.

People may learn new information or techniques but until they apply that thinking through actions, their consciousness remains unchanged.

Working towards a transcendent shift

Just information doesn’t make someone more courageous, more culturally intelligent, or more inspiring or purpose driven – all elements of an effective leader.

However, once an individual has experienced a transcendent shift in being, a new level of consciousness, they see and hold everything differently. They are a different person once they have this highly personal existential shift in self-awareness.

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