27Jun2011

Perpetual Learning

We all know the saying "Sharing knowledge will increase knowledge". Not only do we know the saying, but have also certainly experienced it. The reason is quite simple. When we need to share our knowledge, on the one hand we naturally get motivated to learn thoroughly to really be able to add value and on the other get motivated to discover and learn as we get questioned by the ones with whom we are sharing our knowledge.

In my personal experience as a leader, apart from setting the direction to develop a sense of security to the teams and organisations I have lead, asking the right questions to my "followers" for catalysing their self-discovery has been the second most important success factor to create the passion that resulted in exceptional performance. Of course the other standard leadership skills and qualities like entrepreneurship, empathy, initiative, assertiveness, assessing, giving/receiving feedback, networking, having the big picture, process focus, cooperation, communication, cross functional thinking, good domain knowledge, etc.

The purpose of coaching is exactly to catalyse the self-discovery. All great leaders in our society seem to have this skill well ingrained. Not only have they created a noble vision and have got many people go behind them to realize this vision but also have created great leaders. Needless to say a noble purpose, their character and the other standard qualities I have listed above would have always been there.

Many of us I am sure would have learnt this catalysing skill the hard way as we matured in our leadership capabilities, in some cases spanning over a decade or so. I am sure coaching our teenage kids and/or brothers/sisters would have been one of the biggest leadership learning opportunity. Our coaching skills would have also come from our elders and others who would have coached us. Our main learning method was through experience in life or in simulations during a training. Imagine being comfortable with this skill of catalysing self-discovery as we take on our first leadership role in the mid twenties. Wouldn't it be a great competitive advantage?

The average age in India is expected to be 29 years by 2020. Presently more than half of our population is less than 25 years of age and more than 65% less than 35 years of age. Taking from our own experience, we can really catapult the learning process if we can provide a platform for people to help others catalyse their self-discovery and at the same time helping oneself by experiencing this extremely important leadership skill. This pool of catalysers what one can call as Peer-Coaches or Reciprocal-Coaches will be my first step towards creating more than 100 exceptional leaders by 2020. Once this pool is created then a series of other value added learning services like consultancy, Socratic training as well as best-in-class business solutions like competency management, process management, benchmarking, etc. can follow.

Of course this model of learning must be financially viable and yield an excellent ROI. Going by the numbers in India alone, the best-in-class leadership solutions can in my opinion be available at really affordable prices. The main challenge would be to get a critical mass of at least 1,000 willing, like minded, young potential exceptional leaders.