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Note For complete information on the eleven leadership competencies, order the ebook Resources for Leadership.
Managing Learning
Means Asking Learners

The Emphasis is on Learning

A Manager of Learning is not simply a teacher. Teaching connotes activities too typically requiring a lecture hall and a large number of desks. The phrase manager of learning is carefully chosen. The emphasis is on learning, not on what the instructor teaches. Your job, as a manager of learning, is to help the participants to become more effective leaders.

Managers of learning are different from "teachers" or "instructors." They know that people learn as individuals, not as a class or group. They know each individual is important; therefore, each individual leader must learn or all will receive an inferior program. Whoever accepts the responsibility for managing learning must use unusual techniques to get unusual results.

A Learning Discovery Process

The Manager of Learning (MOL, aka, "Effective Teaching") competency is more complex than most leadership competencies. In a nutshell, Manager of Learning (MOL) describes a  system for exposing learners to the need to know and involving them in their own learning. We choose to continue to name the competency Manager of Learning rather than Effective Teaching because we believe the focus is always on the participants' learning, not the teacher's teaching.

Manager of Learning has four steps:

  1. Guided Discovery
  2. Teach/Learn
  3. Application
  4. Evaluation

Improving Attitudes, Skills, and Knowledge

By learning, we mean the gaining of knowledge, the improvement of skills, or the development of attitudes in a certain area. Sometimes this is abbreviated to "KSA." Attitudes are obviously more important than skills or knowledge— after all, what is the barber going to do with that razor?— it might be better to turn it around to ASK! And it happens that asking, rather than telling, is perhaps the main difference between a teacher and a manager of learning.

We ask, because maybe the learner already knows. Maybe they know but haven't realized that it applies in this situation. Or maybe they don't know they don't know. So we ask him, first. This asking comprises the first of the four steps of manager of learning, the Guided Discovery. A combination of attitudes, skills, and knowledge are usually needed to operate successfully in any specific area.

Attitudes are the most important and are the most difficult to acquire. Often a new attitude must replace an old attitude before skills or knowledge can be used. The manager of learning must be able to detect this situation and know how to effect the change. Counselling techniques are often used to enable a learner to see a need for change— a change in his attitude— and accept the help you or members of his patrol or others can give him.

Not Lock-step

However, the Manager of Learning process is not lock-step but at the learner's own pace of discovery. It is a heuristic learning process, because learning is:

  • Open ended. Not confined to one "right way".
  • Cyclical— new learning is based on old learning plateaus.

MOL is not only one of the competencies taught in Junior Leader Training, it is a method for leadership development which is essential to participatory leadership development. We not only teach a competency called Manager of Learning, but we should be applying its principles in everything we do during the learning program.

For More Information

There are many parts to becoming an effective manager of learning. Here are a few articles to help you get started.

click to order... Excerpted from Resources for Leadership. The leadership competencies are organized into eleven competencies that are easily teachable, Buy it now—only $10. Copyright 2008 Brian Phelps. All Rights Reserved. Brief passages may be quoted for reviews or commentary. Your payment helps us defray the cost of our web presence.

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