Carl Rogers once said, “I realize that I have lost interest in being a teacher. . . . I am only interested in being a learner, preferably learning things that matter.” Leadership is something that matters to me as an educator and as a leadership practitioner. But can leadership be taught?
Have you ever been taught emotional intelligence by an instructor that uses PowerPoint slides? When I started teaching leadership, I vividly remember facing the challenge on how to make my content match my way of teaching, my leadership activities planned for the workshop. When teaching leadership, this call to congruence—how what I am teaching is demonstrated in how I teach it—was the major headache of my work. It forced me to explore a fateful inquiry that led to a powerful discovery: for the congruent educator teaching leadership needs to be in itself an act of … leadership.
So when asked to design a leadership course, I decided that, rather than teaching or preaching, I would rely on evoking, naming, reminding, recognizing, questioning, acknowledging, and affirming. I stopped asking “How can I teach?” and instead started asking “What if leadership is already in the room, and my work is to give it the space and freedom to manifest itself?”
I discovered a methodology called “Case-in-point”, straight from the Adaptive Leadership framework developed by Ron Heifetz, Marty Linsky and others at the Harvard Kennedy School and started experimenting with it…
Teaching Hands-on Leadership Using The “Case-in-point” Method
With this approach, In front of our eyes, the group dynamics of the class provide powerful material for reflection in real time, helping participants in a day class, leadership retreat, or university course to develop their ability to innovate and adapt to changing circumstances in their organizations.
Case-in-point has allowed me to learn and practice leadership experientially in a way that is aligned with my purpose as an educator. And in teaching leadership using Case-in-point I can use in its practice all I learned from other frameworks. In fact:
- As an Action Learning Coach (a process to learn and take action to solve a tough problem) I use the capacity to leverage the power of great questions in order to learn in real-time as individuals, as a team, and as an organization.
- As a World Café Host (a methodology that allows large groups to deepen their inquiry through important questions in a setting that promotes informal conversations and authenticity) I bring into it the artistry of hosting conversations that matter.
- As an Open Space Technology Convener (a meeting process rooted in participants’ passion and responsibility in which attendees create their own meeting agenda and run the meeting in real time) my Case-in-point practice is informed by the trust that groups know how to self-organize for the greater good and by the power of systems to naturally exhibit the distributed leadership that makes change happen.
I continue to find that Case-in-point provides me with the best way to teach leadership experientially and encourage you to explore its power.
Adriano understands how to increase your returns on leadership. He works with professionals in world-class organizations that include Philip Morris, Microsoft, the World Bank, Johns Hopkins University, the US Marine Corps, the State Department and NASA. A skilled experiential educator with corporate leadership experience, he is the Founder & Principal Consultant of ParticipAction Consulting, Inc., a firm committed to help clients redefine change, collaboration and power in their organizations. He co-authored "Teachable Moments of Leadership" with Jill Hufnagel in 2016, on a learning methodology that gets results by going from PowerPoint to …powerful!