Development and Learning in Organizations

ISSN: 1477-7282

Article publication date: 28 June 2011



Gimson, A. (2011), "Editorial", Development and Learning in Organizations, Vol. 25 No. 4. https://doi.org/10.1108/dlo.2011.08125daa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: Development and Learning in Organizations, Volume 25, Issue 4

The quest to define, recognize and develop effective leadership in our organizations continues to exercise many within our industry. Billions of dollars are spent each year but to what effect? In our Viewpoint for this issue, Kirsten Graham shares her own explorations which have culminated in the development of what she calls “Soul Leadership”. This requires each individual leader to reconnect with their own inner truth and find their unique 4Ps – purpose, passion, possibilities and place. Time spent answering these questions feels like a refreshing change from leadership development programs chock-full of case studies, role-plays and textbook answers.

The business investment in coaching is also massive and Alison Walker-Frazer challenges us to take a more robust examination of its contribution to leadership and organizational performance. From her qualitative research, she recommends a systematic evidencing of the return on investment through the use of “Balanced Scorecard” types of approaches. Even just using her example of a “Coaching measurement pro-forma” could, I am sure, produce some interesting reflection.

Uma Jogulu looks at leadership from a different angle, setting out a link between transformational leadership approaches and organizational learning. Through her analysis of leadership and organizational literature, she highlights the level of leaders’ influence on the “learning climate” – for good or ill – and offers a credible case as to why learning should be high on the agenda of all our organizational leaders.

Owners and directors of small and medium enterprises (SME) are often most heavily criticized for putting their own and others’ learning needs at the bottom of their business agenda. Any of us who have run small businesses would recognize the difficult balance between keeping the ship afloat in the current storm and looking and planning ahead for those windows of opportunity. However, Paul Lyons and Marty Mattare demonstrate a possible solution. They explore “scenistic methods” where learning is directly linked with participants” own contexts and responsibilities. This results in real-time business improvement and avoids that dreaded “training transfer” problem which can be so costly for SMEs.

But what of those young people when they leave academia to take up their first posts in the world of work? Employers have been constantly calling on universities and colleges to help “Generation Y” and now “Generation Z” develop better work-related skills. As part of the answer, many degree programs now require students to undertake some form of work placement during their course. Their success, however, can be questionable with students often getting caught between the disparate expectations of employers and higher education institutions. Bonnie Cord, Chris Sykes and Michael Clements share seven principles, around a central theme of “caring”, that should be employed to ensure a successful transition from the classroom to the workplace.

Our first review piece “Mentors break down cultural boundaries” also looks at how best to support young people in unfamiliar contexts. It describes how one North American university set up a mentoring program for new international students. If you are involved in facilitating cross-cultural or international working, whether for young or old, you may very well find some interesting ideas here.

“Share and share alike” investigates the enablers and barriers to knowledge sharing within organizations. The contribution of informal networks and relationships is highlighted and, perhaps more importantly, the need for space – both physical (e.g. informal meeting places) and mental (e.g. time to reflect and engage with others) – is recognized.

Sharing knowledge is known to assist creativity and innovation. In “Balancing continuity and change to drive innovation”, the fascinating case study from an Indian manufacturing company is outlined. A comprehensive description of the strategic factors at play in the business is followed by succinct recommendations to enable the organization to optimize their innovation and financial performance.

“Making sure the training travels” takes us back to the issues associated with transferring formal training into learning applied on the job. Two points that jumped out at me were the need for learners to set their own goals and the need for every learner (and therefore all of us) to be properly heard. For instance, how many times do you forget to look at the person speaking to you? My teenage daughter spots it without fail and is delighted to point it out to me!

Anne GimsonStrategic Developments International, UK. E-mail: anne@stratdevint.com

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