Culture of learning in organization

Read my perception on :
Soraya Fallah

Why Kouzes and Posner believe smart leader creates a culture of learning in his/her organization and suggest “essentials” for strengthening others?


According to K&P the two essentials used by exemplary leaders to “Strengthen Others” is to “Enhance Self-Determination” and “Develop Competence and Confidence.” They go on to give varies ways leaders can engage in these essentials. The two that stood out to me as the most effective are: “Provide Choices,” which helps “Enhance Self-Determination” and “Educate and Share Information,” which helps with developing “Competence and Confidence.”

K&P state that giving people choices will help them act independently so that they can “take initiative and be self-directed” (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, p. 249). “Enhancing Self-Determination” is all about empowering others and I think people feeling like they have a say in what and how things are done is a very a important factor in self-determination. When someone makes a choice out of their own accord, they feel responsible towards the outcome; they are more likely to take responsibility and ownership of that choice. This will lead the way to “accountability,” which is another one of the essentials. K& P say that “by proving choices, you are enabling others to lead themselves” (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, p. 249).

I have personally experienced the way providing choices helps people produce better work and feel more satisfied. There was a time when every required activity at the company I work for was micromanaged, such as what had to be done at what hour. The problem with this model was that often employees were not enthusiastic about their work. They felt obligated rather than excited to perform their work. A few years ago I decided to change this by holding a weekly meeting and explaining what needed to be done but then providing each person the choice to do their duties at times best suited for them. I also provided the choice for each person to choose their own group of clients from a long list of clients who were in need of receiving services. There was an immediate shift in people’s attitudes and level of enthusiasm. They were able to do their work when it felt most appropriate for them and they felt a lot more in control. K&P’s story of Tim Haun illustrates a similar shift. I also noticed that people “…felt as though they were each running his/her own business within the larger business, which enhanced their own sense of control and power” (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, 248).

Providing choices to people who are unsure of what to do is not very productive. That’s why I think “Educate and Share Information” is an effective essential. It allows employees to have the confidence to exercise their discretion and actually make appropriate choices. K&P quote Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin’s book where they state “[e]nsuring that employees are given the training they need and involving them in decisions that impact their work creates both competence and commitment” (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, 258). Educating and sharing information also helps enhance people’s confidence, which is an important part of the essentials.

The company I work for lacks in this department and I have noticed that not proving incentives to further educate oneself is holding many employees back. There are companies who pay for continuing education courses and trainings or pay for employees to attend industry related conferences.  Unfortunately employees at the company I work for have to educate themselves or pay for these trainings out of pocket. This puts an undue burden on employees and they feel discouraged and less confident in their work. As K&P state, “[m]aking people smarter is the job of every leader” (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, 260). I hope to be able to do this in the future as I learn to become a more effective leader.

Kouzes, J. M., Posner, B. Z., & ebrary, I. (2012). The leadership challenge: How to make extraordinary things happen in organizations (5th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


Kouzes, James M.,Posner, Barry Z. (1995) The leadership challenge :how to keep getting extraordinary things done in organizations San Francisco : Jossey-Bass,



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