Learn By Doing

I wish I had more positive news for us, but the only way to learn to lead and to manage with people comes from applied learning.  I’ve read a great deal of Henry Mintzberg’s work for the past 20+ years and refer to it frequently as I work to learn and help others  learn to make a difference in their work.  His perspective with developing leaders/ managers is spot on with what I experience.  You have to experience management in the conditions of managing to learn and master it.

Several specialty fields have this established more clearly.  If you are going to practice medicine, you practice medicine in your specialized area for many years until you are licensed to be a doctor.  The license doesn’t inevitably make them a great doctor, but a  level of competence and memory of practice is affirmed.  On the other hand, if you are designated a leader or manager in most non-specialized fields, there is no identified practice of leadership credentialing, specialization, or competency practice required.

Managing to a level of mastery is a journey with an open mindset, humility, and an intense desire to invest in yourself and others to make a difference through your work.

The greatest passion in my work life is most reinforced in the moments when the student has occasion to pay it forward and they become the master instructor.  They’ve taken their “aha” moment of a growth experience and see the same opportunity for themselves to support the learning journey of another.  This is the basis of how “coaching tree’s” are formed and sustained.  This is the promoting ripple effect that fosters tremendous growth in people and well led/managed organizations.

Denny Crum, a successful college basketball coach in his own right, shared his learning by doing experiences from his work with his mentor, John Wooden, as follows:

“I can’t imagine what my life would have been had Coach Wooden not been my guiding light.  As the years pass, I appreciate him more and more and can only pray that I can have as much influence on the young people I coach as he has had with me.”



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