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From a leadership development standpoint, providing leaders with mentors, action-oriented learning, 360-degree feedback, a combination of traditional and virtual education, and the opportunity to be successful are attributes of a practical leadership development plan. Development models designed to incorporate these factors inspire organizational pride. Those who undergo effectively inclusive programs feel that their organization is willing to invest in their success as a leader. “Action learning is an educational process where people work and learn together by tackling real issues and through reflection” (Walia & Marks-Maran, 2014). Contrary to its intended purpose, action learning appears to be most practically used by many large organizations as an effective training method. However, the action learning model is often perceived more as a “learn by fire” approach than formally developed programs (i.e., classroom style as a primary method).

When newly hired and promoted individuals transition into their new role where programs are not in place, often, the newbie perceives there are limited resources made available to aid in their development and their success. And while new leaders will exhibit some excitement and drive, they will experience diminished levels of engagement. Conversely, leadership development must be a continuous and systemic process. The program design must be inclusive and include action plans and scheduled touchpoints that will expand the individuals’, the team, and the organizations’ capacities (Dugan, 2011) and in many cases, “scale” in support of achieving the team’s targets and the organization’s shared goals.

The application of an action learning approach, when coupled with action planning and follow-up – evokes engagement. And according to Walia & Marks-Maran (2014), individuals who go through the action learning model experience greater levels of motivation and overall support. Besides, adopting an action learning approach towards leadership development will result in leadership commitment, value contribution, and learning retention – further expanding the leader’s skills, talent, attitude, knowledge, and experiences that can be quickly applied.

Dugan, J. P. (2011). Pervasive myths in leadership development: Unpacking constraints on leadership learning. Journal Of Leadership Studies, 5(2), 79-84.

Walia, S., & Marks-Maran, D. (2014). Leadership development through action learning sets An evaluation study. Nurse Education in Practice, 14(6), 612-619.


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