By Mark Rounds, VP of Corporate Development

When developing staff members, the attitude of the leader is of utmost importance. The right environment for learning starts with the leader. The environment must be positive, open and safe: where ideas can be shared freely without fear of ridicule. The leader must have a positive attitude and be enthusiastic for the learning process.

Learning requires dialogue and practice. Simple lectures alone can initiate the learning process, but actual learning occurs in discussion, reflection and practice. Just because you heard it does not mean you learned it. That is why repetition is helpful in the learning process. However, there are times when dialogue stops – which ends the learning. Many people today state their opinion and then shut the door to learning through the “mic-drop.” The mic-drop ends dialogue and does not allow the speaker to gain feedback to know whether or not the audience comprehends or agrees with the statement.

If you wish to reach others and foster real learning, the leader must ask open-ended questions and then listen. Questions such as “what is your opinion of…” and “how do you think this action will affect…” create dialogue where participants share their thoughts and ideas. As people talk and share, others are able to reflect and internalize their thoughts, leading to deeper learning. The leader listens and guides the conversation, because when the leader stops listening, the staff stops talking and nothing is learned.