How Do You Lead Learning?

This, my first experience in a role of management, has been a learning experience. It has been as challenging in many ways as my first year teaching, with similar lessons about setting clear expectations, building relationships and earning confidence.

It has been jarring to move from the study of leadership to the practice of it. But of course, we learn by doing.

One of the common characteristics of successfully led organizations I studied last fall was that they were learning-oriented. That is, for example, a children's hospital choosing to examine misdiagnoses and mistakes in the OR carefully and step by step, to seek improved practices rather than assign blame.

It sounds good, right? But how do you build a similar culture on your own? It seems instinctive to point fingers when things go wrong. Maybe out of self-defense, or maybe because someone genuinely screwed up. But it ultimately doesn't help people improve much. Nor does it encourage people to take risks.

Like I said, this year has already offered countless learning opportunities. These have been possible because each day holds a number of mistakes and missteps, but I'm not discouraged by them as long as I'm learning from them. The question for me now is how do I ask the rest of my team to join this process. What learning am I missing out on without their perspectives? What lessons and new ideas might we come to together? I won't know until I try.


Mad Jack said…
Be extremely clear about goals and expectations.

Scratch your but. One thing that turns people off is a compliment followed by the inevitable 'but', followed by a criticism, and followed by another compliment.

Instead of criticizing what someone has done, tell them what you want them to do.

Decide where the lines in the sand are drawn, then decide where the lines really are. Inform the staff where the last line is - cross this, and you'll be terminated. Then, when someone crosses the line, do not back down.

Keep meetings very brief and productive. Summarize the meeting at the end.

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