‘Every day’s a school day’ the saying goes.
Learning to lead is a process of ‘transforming’ for the individual as leader, and for those around them, which spans a business-lifetime.
Context is king in this virtual classroom. You only have to listen to the owner-managers who have participated in intensive leadership development programmes to understand that it’s the application of ideas, theories, experience and knowledge within their own firms where the ‘learning’ becomes real.
An increasing number of leaders are choosing to add an extra dimension to their learning; one that views ‘real life’ learning through an academic lens, known as ‘work based learning’.
“The whole case for work based learning is founded on an acknowledgement that what you’ve learned at work is comparable in difficulty to university-level learning,” explains Jocelyne Fleming, Academic Subject Lead in Business Management, University of Gloucestershire.
“It’s deep and multi-faceted, encompassing layer upon layer of the many complex and nuanced aspects of running an organisation. Work based learning as a mode of study is a way of helping you to demonstrate that equivalence.
“But more than that, the really big benefit is that it offers a ‘critical thinking’ framework that can bring added depth to the learning that happens in the workplace.”
That’s a view shared by Linsey Temple, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Engineering Training, who has been accredited to Diploma level and is among the first cohort to be working towards the final Master’s stage on GAIN™. “Through the work based learning programme I developed a ‘book of ideas’ and ‘organised thoughts’ to bring change into the business, and a method of how to lead the change.”
Adrian Gill, Director of GillHarrisJames, who undertook the post-graduate Certificate at the end of LEAD™ agrees. “This has been the best part of LEAD™ as it made me consider my learning and contextualised it for me and my business. Everybody should do it.”
Jocelyne explains why it’s such a natural fit. “It’s all about being an independent learner, critical thinker and reflective practitioner. Sound familiar? I’d argue these are also the hallmarks of an effective leader. It’s a perfect fit.
“The beauty of the work based learning MBA, uniquely designed around LEAD™-GOLD™-GAIN™, is that each learner chooses to apply their studies to real projects that are going to add value to their business. They choose the focus that’s driven by an imperative they’re dealing with at that time. They’re in control.
“Achieving an MBA isn’t easy! It requires detailed and deliberate enquiry, making space and time to think about complex and important issues.
“But there’s a whole world of insight, research and theories at your fingertips, with the guidance of experienced tutors, that might just unlock a different way of seeing the challenges in your own organisation.”
Format of Work Based Learning
Work based learning at post-graduate Certificate, Diploma and MBA level involves a range of activities:
Workshops as a cohort
Written reports on your leadership learning and reflections
Producing a personal development plan and self-assessment
Documenting a project where you apply your learning within your business
This article first appeared in the QuoLux™ Leading magazine, Issue 1, April 2017