As leadership evolves, there is a growing importance in non-formal leadership development. When it comes to developing leaders, real-life experience plays a large role. As Marshall Goldsmith has commented, “many of our leadership programs are based on the faulty assumption that if we show people what to do, they can automatically do it” (Petrie, 2011). Leadership should be taught within the workplace. One assumption that Knowles stated about adult education was that adults like to learn what they can immediately apply (Palacios, 2013). When teaching leadership within the workplace, leadership can not only be practiced immediately but is also expected to be applied immediately. A major component of leadership within the workplace involves a specific fit with the company’s organizational culture, and each company will require different competencies and skills in their leaders. Also, as we move into the future, competencies that make a strong leader will be constantly changing and adapting to the current environment (Hernez-Broome & Hughes, 2004). There are many elements of leadership that cannot be taught through the classroom, especially with the new trend of collaborative leadership, adults must gain experience and grow within the workplace. Formal education is no longer the most effective approach to leadership development, and in fact, the classroom is becoming the least critical element for leadership training (Petrie, 2011).
There are many forms of non-formal leadership include mentorships, coaching, development workshops and seminars, short courses, action learning, and 360-feedback (Petrie, 2011). Of course, some methods of leadership development are favoured over others, and it is believed that teaching and learning leadership should be an ongoing process, not just a course or seminar (Hernez-Broome & Hughes, 2004). The application of leadership competencies in one’s specific business organization is a key element to the success of developing leadership: “State of the art leadership development now occurs in the context of ongoing work initiatives that are tied to strategic business imperatives” (Petrie, 2011). Vertical learning is another important aspect, and involves CEO’s of businesses to get involved in coaching and mentoring their employees in all levels of the company. The CEO of P&G, the top ranked company of 2013 for leadership, says that he believes in teaching leadership from within and dedicates a large portion of his time to teaching and coaching employees (Donlon, 2013). In Asia, leading companies in building leadership found that real life experiences in practicing leadership are what lead to the fast development of leaders, and found classroom style learning to be less effective (Ramakrishnan, 2013).
The challenge of non-formal leadership education is deciding the right way to develop and teach leadership. The over reliance on formal education, such as MBA programs, is partly due to the fact that it is unknown what experiences best prepare individuals to be leaders (Ramakrishnan, 2013). Also, it may be easier and takes less internal resources for companies and to send their employees to a course versus teaching employees themselves. However, it is important that companies overcome these hurdles so that they can develop effective leaders. They must realize that the focus of leadership should be developing the competencies that will work within the organization. The aim of leadership should be to create authentic leaders that will accomplish the company’s goals. It is said that: “leaders should not be accountable for demonstrating a particular set of behaviours but rather should be held accountable for desired outcomes” (Petrie, 2011). In turn, companies need to foster organizational environments that nurture and reinforce the desired behaviors of leaders (Petrie, 2011).
The main form of informal education within the workplace is observation and working with another leader to follow his or her vision (Mathews, 2012). It is important for CEOs to set good examples for their organizations and to surround their employees with influences that will allow them to succeed and take on roles of leadership. CEOs are leaders, and they must believe that their employees can become leaders and provide them with opportunities to learn from other leaders within the company (Crisp, 2013).
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Hernez-Broome, G., & Hughes, R. L. (2004). Leadership development: Past, present, and future. Human Resource Planning, 24-31. Retrieved from http://home.mycybernet.net/~taylors/Publish/leadership development.pdf
Matthews, P. (2012). Leadership and learning. Training Journal, , 60-63. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1027547960?accountid=1343
Palacios, C. (2013). Andragogy. Retrieved from http://blogs.ubc.ca/adhe412may2013/andragogy/
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Ramakrishnan, M. (2013, July 05). How top asian firms develop good leaders. The Business Times. Retrieved from http://www.stjobs.sg/career-resources/workplace-success/how-top-asian-firms-develop-good-leaders/a/126822