August was a big month for our family. Among the highlights, our oldest child entered kindergarten at a public school that is Montessori-based. The short story is that he LOVES it, which is notable because of the intense struggles he had in a much more traditional environment over the past two years. It is just fascinating to see the transformation, and I can't help but explore what has brought this about. Why does this school/classroom/teacher work so well for him?
I'm sure there are many reasons, and some of them (e.g., a break at home over the summer, general maturity) don't have anything to do with the school itself.
But there are key elements of this new environment that catch my attention. See if you find anything familiar with these.
When a Learning & Development (L&D) Specialist sits with business leaders to talk about their interest in leadership development, it’s not uncommon for the conversation to sound like this:
L&D Specialist: So, why is leadership development on your mind?
CEO: It’s important to invest in our people.
L&D Specialist: I certainly agree. What do you want to accomplish through leadership development?
CFO: Employees are excited about it. They come to the sessions. It’s good stuff.
L&D Specialist: You bet. What would you want people to be better at after being part of a leadership development program?
CEO: They are more effective leaders.
CFO: They communicate better. They are better listeners.
CEO: So, do you know of some classes we can offer?
L&D Specialist: I know of great classes and other learning options as well. Our best outcomes will come when we know upfront the specific changes we are seeking. Maybe we can first work on determining our leadership competencies, and evaluating the gap between current and desired performance of these competencies?
CEO: Everyone’s really busy. Let’s just get something going. Our competitors have had this kind of program for a while now. See what you can find and bring me some ideas.
L&D Specialist: What’s the budget you were thinking of?
CEO: I don’t know. Depends on what you bring me. Thanks.
Could you feel the tension in this conversation? The L&D Specialist is working hard to see the vision of the CEO and CFO, or even help them clarify their vision. The leaders, however, just want activities to happen. They may even grow frustrated with the L&D Specialist’s questions. Meanwhile, the Specialist may feel set up to fail because the desired outcomes and specs are so limited.
So, where do they go from here?