To be successful in the new global environment, twenty‐first century leaders must increase their ability to function in seven key roles, namely, as a systems thinker, change agent, innovator, servant, polychronic co‐ordinator, teacher‐mentor and visionary. Action learning has quickly emerged as one of the most effective and powerful tools in developing the necessary competencies and experiences to carry out these roles. In this article, the author describes how the elements of action learning (i.e. real problems, fellow leaders in the action learning team, a reflective inquiry process, commitment to action, and focusing on learning) contribute to the building of each of these critical leadership skills.
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