An Executive Competitive Advantage

In my experience, profitable organizations have cultures that support adults who are hungry to learn. I build numbers of “distant learning courses” for my clients. Many organizational cultures fail to understand how to maximize learning and stay mired in the limiting model of pedagogical teaching. Leaders who want to get the most from their teams, are well served by using the principles of adult learning that support the motivation and bliss of adult learners.

 I spent a number of years working with Malcolm Knowles, known as the father of adult learning and an author of a myriad of books, including his classic, The Adult Learner. Malcolm graduated from Harvard University and received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He was a pioneer and torchbearer, helping the world start to understand the difference between pedagogical and andragogical learning. The following chart looks at the differences between the two philosophies.

[1] Whitby, Tom. “Pedagogy vs. Andragogy.” Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. (March 22, 2016)

 It’s challenging to unlearn years of controlling habits in order to adopt a world of andragogical learning. My clients learn how to reap the benefits of using adult learning principles by their practical usage of it in meetings, and making team based decisions on the courses they lead. More effective business people often have significant emotional intelligence. They structure environments for learning that demand clear principles and use their emotional intelligence to “Hold the space” for people on the team to learn. Ask yourself the question, “Based on the preceding chart, which culture, do I want to foster with my team(s)?”

 Bryce G. Hoffman’s book, American Icon, is a magnificent account of Alan Mulally’s accomplishments as the CEO of Ford Motor Company. A major tenant of his leadership skills is his ability to create a responsible learning environment for his executive team. He was able to create a team oriented culture and guide his teammates to make decisions that brought the Ford Motor Company from the brink of bankruptcy, back to a strong industry leader.

 Business people who are unaware that they are operating from myths versus valid learning theory, will minimize success and invite business failure. The practical understanding and application of the principles of adult learning, serves a crucial role in operating a profitable business. Executives and managers who are more successful, learn to understand and work with tested principles. The successful executive is aware of his/her biases, is a voracious learner and is focused on the success of the team and the individual team members.