4 Practices serve as Pillars for Adult Learning: Learning-oriented leadership offers a promising way to support growth

By    Sep 9, 2011

Leading organizations are learning organizations—and smart executives strive to provide their teams with opportunities for growth through education. However, creating high-quality learning experiences for adults with a range of needs and developmental styles can be a challenge for leaders. In this article, Ellie Drago-Severson presents a model to support adult growth and transformational learning. The model’s four pillar practices (teaming, providing leadership roles, collegial inquiry and mentoring) support the various ways in which adults make meaning out of their experiences. A leader’s ability to acknowledge and understand his or her team members’ different ways of knowing is fundamental to creating a valuable learning process.

Though Drago-Severson’s work emerged from researching principal/teacher relationships, the framework can be translated to any field in which employees of diverse personalities and styles are working together to achieve a common goal. Drago-Severson’s pillars are easily implemented inside an organization and require few resources. This framework is particularly relevant to the nonprofit sector, where learning opportunities are necessary to keep up with changing technological and business practices yet resources can be scarce.

This journal article is a brief and accessible look at the author’s research in adult learning. While this piece can be found online, further inquiries into the topic are included in Drago-Severson’s book Becoming Adult Learners: Principles and Practice for Effective Development (cited in text).

Available online »