Opportunities to leverage the My Current Leadership Challenge worksheet that is part of the pre-work to The Leadership Challenge programs cannot be overstated. We all know that learning is facilitated when people can apply the knowledge they are acquiring to a current situation and, therefore, begin to put it into practice. By having participants articulate a current challenge, one that could be positively impacted by more effective leadership, you establish a "lens" through which they can view The Five Practices model. This lens allows them to focus in on specific opportunities within their reach. It also drives results.
In a recent classroom-setting workshop, for example, I introduced the definition of "leadership" and then asked participants to take a few minutes to formulate and speak to a specific challenge with other attendees sitting at their tables. They were encouraged to talk specifically about how effective leadership could help meet their challenge, based on their new understanding of the word. After each practice, participants identified an action they could commit to taking. They then took a few minutes to work with a partner to explore how that action might specifically apply to the challenge they had identified. The result was that at the end of the workshop, all participants had identified five things they could do short-term, and had a clear understanding of how these actions might help them meet their specific challenge. I believe the result was that all felt empowered and ready to face their challenge.
We also leverage the My Current Leadership Challenge worksheet, in a slightly different but no less effective way, in the Leadership Challenge Workshop Online. Because of the extended time the community of participants is together, we are able to watch the impact of these behaviors as the challenge is met over time. Each week participants identify behaviors that they are willing to commit to and believe will positively impact their challenge. They report back, into the Idea Bank section of the Class Headquarters, the results they have seen and the impact on their challenge. We also encourage them to bring their action results into the community in the Discussions section of the Class Headquarters. We tell them to think of this as their 'Commons Room', a place where they can talk openly with community members about the progress they are making in addressing the challenge they face. Peer coaching abounds and the support for each person's leadership journey is ongoing. Real challenges woven into the workshop equates to real support, real community, and real progress.
Beth High is president of HighRoad Consulting, a leadership development company, where she focuses on the challenges of leading effectively in the virtual environment. She also is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge Workshop® and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.