Introverts, extroverts and the case for experiential learning
Leadership has long been the domain of the intelligence and although emotional and social intelligence are recognised as essential components of leadership, they have thus far largely been engaged from the intellect.
A new way of learning is required as leadership moves from a purely cognitive process to an integrated mind, body and heart approach. Those leaders who can align their technical knowledge, emotions, gut instinct and intuition have a greater ability to engage and influence at all levels of the organization.
As a result, companies are increasingly putting experiential learning at the heart of their people development strategy, recognising that 70% of learning comes from challenging experiences, 20% from coaching and mentoring relationships and 10% from classroom learning. Role play has come back into fashion but the biggest challenge is that it is not real. Authenticity is a huge part of leadership and is largely lacking in role play.
In a recent McKinsey report, senior executives almost unanimously – 94 percent – said that people and corporate culture are the most important drivers of innovation. The report recommended to foster an innovation culture based on trust among employees.
Yet building trust is not a cognitive process. You don’t do A+B and expect to get C. Leadership development needs to take into account the complexity of the human condition and that goes far beyond cognitive processing.
The outward bound forms of learning that were popular in the 1980s and 90s pushed leaders out of their comfort zone but often the learning wasn’t mapped back to the workplace. Or people were left dangling (sometimes literally), unsure whether the experience had shown them up as useless and poor communicators.
Conversely, those who already had confidence left having bolstered their ego, knowing that their confidence would carry them through in many situations, though not all. The challenge with outward bound activities is that the facilitation varies in quality and many of them have little or no experience of the workplace that their delegates come from. That leaves the learning dangling from the trees as well.
As an extrovert, I love anything that has me swinging from trees and learning in the process but it’s an introvert’s nightmare.
If 70% of learning comes from challenging experiences, how then do we provide learning that appeals to a variety of styles?
Enter the horses. We begin the day observing the horses in a field in silence. The introverts have a chance to reflect and observe their equine learning partners. It’s a chance to tap into how they feel and be curious about what is happening – both crucial elements of leadership that are often overlooked.
Meanwhile, the extroverts often find themselves out of their comfort zone, eager to “do something”, sometimes even bored because the horses aren’t doing enough. At once, we’re on a level playing field.
We move on to leading a horse. The extroverts dive in, the introverts stand back and reflect, eager to learn by observing the experience of others.
And so, the day swings from one to the other. In between, we create space for dialogue, curiosity, reflection, journaling and debriefs that uncover hidden depths of learning.
95% repeat business
With a repeat business of 95%, our clients are coming back for more, safe in the knowledge that we have the skills, experience and capabilities to hold people in a safe space for profound learning to unfold and an ability to map it back to practical work situations. All are welcome – introverts and extroverts alike – but expect to have a different learning experience along the way. In this way, the learning is tailored for each person in the moment, with each delegate uncovering their own strengths, as well as discovering how to recalibrate and overcome where they get derailed.
Some of our clients say
“I am now more interested in achieving collective results rather than individual success. I am being more careful when taking decisions that might have a wider impact. I have more empathy now, not only with the rest of the team but with others in general.”
Jorge Ribeiro, Head of IT Infrastructure, Telefonica
“You uncovered all my strengths and all the places where I sabotage my career in the first five minutes of the day. It’s as if you have known me all my life.”
SD, Financial Services Director