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508 How to Use Action Learning to Develop Leadership Skills

9:45 AM - 10:45 AM ET
Wednesday, December 6

In a VUCA world leaders are firefighting, under stress, trying to cope with everything the organization throws at them—so they adopt a head-down, directive leadership style. This prevents them from scanning the horizon and being more strategic. It also impacts those around them.

Action Learning is proven to improve leaders’ ability to listen, ask probing questions, and take time to reflect, while accepting that each individual has the capacity to find their own solution. Such skills enable leaders to address the many leadership challenges they face and solve complex and unforeseen problems, both now and in the future.

This hands-on session explores what Action Learning is and what is meant by the term ‘wicked problem’ (i.e., one with no obvious solution). You will discover the power of open-ended questions and the value of being listened to by your peers, of people taking time to reflect on your challenge and identifying actions you could take to bring about change.

We’ll explore the ‘gold standard’ model of Action Learning pioneered by Reg Revans, the role of the facilitator, and the kind of questions that generate deep thinking that leads to action. After practice in small groups, we’ll reflect together on the process and discuss ways in which you could use this approach yourselves.

Before the pandemic, Action Learning set meetings were held in person, but they have moved seamlessly online. I will round off the session by reviewing the similarities and differences between the two versions.

In this session you will learn:

  • What Action Learning is and how to facilitate set meetings
  • How to ask effective questions that generate insights
  • The power of listening and being listened to
  • The similarities and differences between in-person and virtual delivery modes

Joan Keevill


Designs on Learning

Joan Keevill started Designs on Learning Ltd in 2008, after 18 years working at the BBC, latterly in the training & development division. Joan initially specialized in eLearning, working across a wide range of subject matters, before adding facilitation and leadership development work. She has been working as a Henley Business School Associate for many years and now supports the Leadership Apprenticeship programs, primarily online. She judges the annual Learning Technologies Awards and has won two herself, for leadership and compliance eLearning. She was chair of The Learning Network (UK) for three years until 2021.