The challenge lies in making use of on-the-job experiences. This means finding better ways to identify developmentally significant jobs, to move the right people to them and to help talented people learn from them. How well these things are done is far more important than how formal or elegant the procedures are.
—The Lessons of Experience by McCall, Lombardo, and Morrison, 1988
In 1988, the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) published an important study. Important because of the insights it contained, and important because it has largely been ignored for the past 25 years. CCL interviewed successful executives to better understand how they got better at leading. These were in-depth interviews, the kind that allow participants to tell stories about their experiences and reveal what they had learned.
The researchers found that the primary way successful executives learned was from on-the-job experience. Not training, not books, but the work itself. Hence the title of their book, The Lessons of Experience. [Read more…] about Learning to lead