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Question:
Discuss about the Learning Organisation.

 
Answer:
Introduction:

Many scholars have come up with different definitions of a leader. However, the definitions are correlated since they have elements that are overlapping. In brief, a leader is said to be a person who directs others towards achieving any set goal. There may exist differences in the definitions but the three common elements must feature. (McGill, 2011). They include the goals, the people being led and the one who is exercising authority upon them. Leadership is a skill that can be nurtured through learning. However, many people believe that leaders are just born. It is for this reason that we do not associate leadership with a position within an organisation or the government. For instance, there are individuals who occupy very influential offices yet they do not possess any of the leadership traits. (Harrison, 2015)

A leader has the desire to achieve the desired goals. Consequently, they make every effort to achieve the goals despite the challenges that arise along the way. Leaders motivate others through service. Therefore they must commit themselves to a course that will portray them as an example to their subjects. (Nevis, 2009)

 

John C. Maxwell perceives leadership in three dimensions through his statement that says: A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. The first aspect of leadership according to Maxwell depicts a leader as an individual who has a vision. A vision is an imaginary impression of how the future would be. The leader ought to have a blueprint of what they intend to achieve before they guide people in working towards the goal. (Kolb, 2006). The people are motivated when leaders take up the role to define a good vision. Leaders are charged with the responsibility to conceptualise the visions so that they can break it down for the people they lead. This calls for special skills in the management of the masses. In this case, leaders have to sharpen their communication proficiency. They must also strategise effectively in order to formulate clear and achievable visions. Sometimes the visions may need adjustments depending on the future environmental changes. The leaders should be flexible enough to make the alterations so as the organisation remains on course.  It is for this reasons that Maxwell contends that leaders must know the way. (Argyris, 2013)

The next aspect in Maxwell’s communication is that leaders should go the way. After setting the vision, efforts must be put in place to get to the reality of the imaginations. Leaders are expected to exhibit resilience because it is never an easy task. In order to achieve a wonderful goal, normally the challenges witnessed may discourage the people within the organisation. It is the duty of the leaders to keep up the fighting spirit. A leader should not be faint hearted. (Lähteenmäki, 2007). This trait is disadvantageous especially in environments where there are many risks. Leaders who achieve success in the end always give priority to the most essential practices. They minimise risks by employing adequate management measures. This is a step that demands for sound decision making processes because it determines the direction which the organisation will take. (Azmi, 2008)

The last item is that the leaders should show the way. Typically, leadership entails the capacity to influence. Maxwell believes that one qualifies to be a leader if they can convince the rest of the people to work towards realizing the objectives. They do so by providing a conducive environment and the requisite tools for working. Worker participation in the decision making process is an important ingredient for empowerment. A leader should create teams which can work in collaboration. By doing this, they serve as inspirational figures that the employees can look up to. The general conduct of a leader is paramount for the success of any organisation. (McGill, 2011). Many workers take up the behaviour of their leaders because they believe those are their role models. Maxwell highlights the need for the leaders to be all round individuals since they represent the whole organisation. National leaders are public figures that are monitored all over the world. The image of the country relies on the leaders hence the need for them to carry themselves with repute. We can use the analogy of Jesus Christ who is considered by many as the ultimate leader. He lived a life of example, in that he did what he said. Jesus exhibited the utmost will to achieve his vision when he offered himself on the cross so that every human kind may find salvation. (Azmi, 2008)

 


There has been extensive scholarly research in the field of organisational learning. Many people want to gain insight in the systems through which organisational learning operates, how to come up with such organisations and the challenges experienced while learning. Organisational learning is a branch of Organisational Theory as a discipline. It is a conglomerate of many other subjects that border on creativity and innovation and the ability to communicate. Organisational Learning is specifically focused on the psychological spheres that are associated with any organisation. (Levinthal, 2014)

Organisational Learning can be defined from two fronts. First, the behavioural aspects are analysed and then the thinking patterns follow. There are two schools of thought which try to unravel the mysteries that come with Organisational learning. The behavioural school bases its argument on how to do, whereas the cognitive school is limited to the mental patterns of thinking. (March, 2006). Learning is a process; the proponents of the cognitive school contend that our minds have special designs of thinking that help in the learning course. These designs guide in the interpretation of the existing surrounding and determine the reflex action to be undertaken in various situations. On the other hand, those who believe in the behavioural school of thought hold a contrasting opinion. They believe that learning occurs through direct physical confrontation with the environment. For example, one must perform an experiment to ascertain the physical changes that happen when an event takes place. (Lähteenmäki, 2007)

There are theories that explain the Organisational Learning concept. They were derived from both schools of thought. The adaptive and generative learning theory and the experiential theory are derivatives from the cognitive school. The assimilation theory is a product from the behavioural school. The experiential theory was coined from the word experience. The psychological welfare of an individual expands as they gain more familiarity with the learning environment. (Harrison, 2015). This theory is applicable in the leadership cycles in that individual skills are sharpened as time goes by. Learning is a repetitive procedure that enables leaders to interact with the environment. They conduct experiments which present challenges to them. Such experiments require an intensive formulation of possible solutions hence the development of the thinking patterns. (Levinthal, 2014)

 


The adaptive and generative theory calls for a broader view of the world phenomena. The imaginary patterns are based on a deeper perspective of the nature of the environmental aspects. In this sense, the elements incorporated in the experimentation process cover a wider scope. Much information is sought from a group of disciplines in order to come up with a hybrid mental pattern. (Harrison, 2015)

Lastly is the assimilation theory. While the initial theories focus on the thinking process, this theory is based on the behaviour changes in the learning process. It describes the development along the cycle, giving evidence that is quantifiable. The evidence is collected through observation, which is contrary to the other approaches that are purely psychological. The assimilation process follows a systematic procedure that forms a full cycle of action related learning. (March, 2006)

Having examined the three theories, the next step is to relate them to John C. Maxwell’s premise that a leader knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. In the discussion above, there is mention that a good leader must have a clear vision. For any organisation to achieve its targets, leaders must set achievable visions. The experiential theory can come to play in this scenario since leadership is a critical aspect. Leaders who have vast experience are bound to make sound decisions since they are knowledgeable. Some decisions can be made following the precedential judgements that were made in the past. Experience comes with resilience. A leader who is experienced can withstand tougher challenges. (Kolb, 2006)

 


Maxwell also argues that a leader should go the way. The dynamics of the world are very demanding. Organisations should be led in a manner that is flexible so as to adapt to the changing environment. For this reason, the adaptive and generative theory of learning is employed. It is an established fact that the theory is a conglomerate of vast disciplines. The implication of this is that leaders should be ready to accommodate any situation because organisations are faced with many challenges. (Hodgkinson, 2009)

In Maxwell’s principle, the last item is for a leader to show the way. The most applicable theory is the assimilation theory which is based on observation. In this case, leaders can perform experiments to their subjects so that they learn how to carry out organisational duties. Formally, this idea is carried out through trainings. Workers often go through a systematic tuition that enables them to acquire skills. (Isaacs, 2015)

 
References

Argyris, C. (2013). Teaching Smart People How To Learn. Harvard Business Review, 

Argyris, C., & Schon, D. A. (2009). Organizational learning: A theory in action perspective.Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. 

Azmi, F. T. (2008). Organizational learning: Crafting a strategic framework. ICFAI Business Strategy, 

Harrison, R. (2015). Learning, knowledge productivity and strategic progress:  International Training & Development 

Hodgkinson, M. (2009). The ‘Learning Organization’ and Emergent Strategies. Strategic Change 

Isaacs, W. N. (2015). Taking Flight: Dialogue, Collective Thinking, and Organizational Learning. Organizational Dynamics, 

Kolb, D. (2006). Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Harvard Business Review 

Lähteenmäki, S.M. (2007). Critical Aspects of Organizational Learning Research and Proposals For Its Measurement. British Institute of Management 

Levinthal, D. A. (2014). The Myopia of Learning. Strategic Management. 

March, J. G. (2006). Exploration and Exploitation in Organized Learning. Organization Science 

McGill, M. E. (2011). The Smarter Organization: How to build a business that learns and adapts to marketplace. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons. 

Nevis, E. C. (2009). Understanding Organizations as Learning Systems. MIT Sloan Management Review

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