Work based learning

CLP Leadership Networks Report

learning and legacy

by Hilary Jennings

Between April 2006 and March 2008, the Cultural Leadership Programme funded 30 Leadership Learning Networks, across the sector and across the UK, as part of the Work-Based Opportunities strand, which recognised the value of delivering leadership development within a ‘real world’ workplace context.  These networks supported structured programmes of individual leadership development involving a wide variety of approaches, including mentoring, coaching, shadowing, exchange, action learning sets and events, as well as a range of peer-to-peer support. The network structure presented a cost effective way of supporting learning and development, alongside the potential of building long-lasting relationships at both an organisational and individual level, which in turn encouraged sustainability and helped to embed a culture of leadership learning. 

While the average network had 15 participants, over 450 individuals were directly engaged in the learning programmes, with hundreds more involved peripherally in events and projects. Most networks involved a blend of individual and group learning processes; individual processes provided a tailored approach, whilst the group activities allowed for information sharing, networking, peer to peer learning and problem solving and co-mentoring. 

This essay identifies the common characteristics of successful networks as ones that showed clear and shared purpose, selected the right network members, operated with clear and efficient processes and had well-developed and delivered content.  Common challenges however, included insufficient time for initial scoping and clarity of need, a lack of synergy and commitment, and a lack of wider support and co-ordination.

As the paper identifies, whilst it is difficult to quantify impact in network learning, significant and broad ranging benefits were demonstrated at individual, business, regional and sector levels and the networks succeeded in offering a relatively low-cost way of supporting sustainable leadership development, helping to embed a culture of leadership learning across the sector.

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