It seems we’ve hit the mid-semester slump with problems with technology and how to leverage it for learning this week. It’s got me thinking about Ken Blanchard’s model of Situational Leadership, a concept that’s been debunked a bit by scholars, but I’ve found extremely useful for leadership development. I think there are some concepts here that will help us as we move forward to nurture informal learning in our organizations.
Starting out, we’re enthusiastic beginners. We’re excited by all the new toys, eager for the possibilities, proud to be learning to lead the charge. With enthusiastic beginners, says Blanchard, direction is important: show and tell how to do things. Little coaching is needed because newbies are already enthusiastic. Then reality hits and we become disillusioned learners. Tweets don’t show up. Critical information is embedded in an email we didn’t read carefully. We have trouble keeping track of URLs and passwords. Blanchard suggests that the leader/trainer/coach/facilitator needs to continue with lots of direction, showing and telling, but needs to add more support and encouragement. To be a listening post and cheerleader. If our ultimate goal is to become an independent peak performer, we need coaching to get over this hump.
In the networked world, where will this coaching come from? I think we’ll need to nurture coaching abilities in everyone, so peers and even strangers can step up to the plate when someone’s faltering. I also think we’ll need to find ways for people who need help to ask for it. We’ll need to help experienced users overcome what the Heath brothers call the “Curse of Knowledge” to help them coach less able colleagues effectively without making assumptions about what they know. Personally, I think I’ll have to suppress the urge to play mom and rush in to help rather than waiting for the network to spring into action.