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How to build a learning community for your operational leaders

How to build a learning community for your operational leaders

True leadership capability is a scarce resource in many organisations. Although there are plenty of managers, there are often too few leaders who enable ordinary people to do extraordinary things. And, all too frequently, when an organisation embarks on a change initiative everyone except the executive team receives training – even though the ability to lead and manage change is a core competency of leadership.

Change won’t occur without the focused and concerted effort of leaders who not only believe in the change, but who are also equipped with the skills and knowledge to deliver the required outcomes. Instituting development programmes that help leaders build their leadership capabilities is critical to the success of any change initiative.

Yet there’s no such thing as a definitive leadership programme. Any programme that an organisation selects must be customised to suit its long-term goals, vision and values as well as the needs of its leaders. It must also aim to strengthen relationships between peers and others with whom they interact in the workplace.

6 steps to building a learning community

It’s important to instil the discipline of setting aside regular quality time for learning activities at a leadership level. An ideal way to focus on the concerns and challenges of leadership is by establishing a learning community. These communities can be defined as ‘groups of people informally bound together by shared expertise and a passion for joint enterprise’. By meeting on a regular basis, the collective intelligence and talent can then focus on resolving critical issues.

Once the decision is taken to create a learning community, the following six guidelines will help with the process:

  1. Design your team learning agenda together — list the issues that are really important and which you are willing to devote time to.
  2. Look at your current reality and prioritise the list, then decide where the biggest impact will be made.
  3. List the areas where the greatest knowledge deficit is found and establish who would be able to assist in these areas.
  4. List the knowledge assets of the team and establish how these can be shared.
  5. Get consensus on the learning agenda and set aside sufficient time to start the process.
  6. Use an experienced and trusted facilitator to help you get going.

All the required leadership competencies can be learned and developed. Most managers, therefore, have the choice of whether to become leaders who do not just manage change but are the change.

Remember, collaborative learning is a new skill that requires patience and practice; it could also be particularly challenging for leaders who are used to being competitive. But once the learning community concept becomes part of your organisational culture, the rewards will come thick and fast.

DOWNLOAD How To Guide: Building leadership competencies that drive competitiveness to find out how to create a foundation for superior performance and sustainable competitive advantage.


The TRACC framework helps organisations build standardised and integrated good practice and performance capacity across their Plan, Source, Make and Deliver functions. Simultaneously it accelerates their collaboration and alignment capacity to build world class end-to-end value chains, enabling the organisation itself to become the ultimate source of sustainable competitive advantage.


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