The role of action learning in project leadership

Alexandra Secerbegovic
July 16, 2014

In today’s competitive and ever-changing environment, organisations are more frequently, and without notice, required to change at the drop of a hat and adapt at a moment’s notice or face their demise.

No longer do organisations have the luxury of developing sustainable long-term business plans, nor can they comfortably predict the future. They, in fact, face increasing pressure to please their stakeholders and shareholders through positive market analysis, ethical undertakings and positive returns on their investment.

Organisations therefore need to have in place highly skilled leaders that demonstrate strong leadership, successfully guiding their teams through times of pressure and ever increasing changes. What are the advantages and what is the importance of action learning and reflective practice to improving project performance through leadership development?

Action learning pioneer Professor Reginald Revans states: “Adapt or die is today’s motto… when the rate of change is faster than that of learning, the organism fails. And when the rate of learning is as fast as (or faster than) that of change, the organism is likely to adapt, to survive and even to grow.”

To do this, an organisation must have implemented the correct leadership development programs that are going to assist their project managers. Action learning through reflective practice is one of the tools in which to do this.

There are, however, some barriers to implementing action learning. There is a real risk that leaders will not be provided the support and time they need to undertake reflective practice and implement real changes, as many managers place more value on action rather than reflection.

Download the paper ‘Performance Techniques: Reflective Practice and Action Learning as Leadership Developmental Tools in the Pursuit to Improve Project Performance within the Project Organisation‘ to see the links between action learning and reflective practice with the concept of the learning organisation in discussing the merits of an environment where leadership development is encouraged as part of employee engagement and retention strategies.

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Alexandra Secerbegovic
Alexandra Secerbegovic currently works in the Australian oil & gas industry, specialising in managing and advising on work health and safety matters on largescale projects. She has a Master of WHS Management and a Master of Project Management from the University of Technology Sydney.
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