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Building a Learning Culture Within Organizations

Hi, and a warm welcome to The Human Side of Business Podcast. I’m your host Ange MacCabe. I am pleased to introduce you to Ellen Bailey, VP of Diversity and Culture at Harvard Business Publishing.

In this episode, Ellen dives into the strategies behind establishing a learning culture within leadership and organizations and provides insight into how HBP champions this mindset change for their culture and people.

What Is a Learning Organization?

Ellen Bailey: Organizations, including our own, need to shift how we think about a learning organization. Let's shift from having a checklist to having guidelines; let's shift to being more transparent with our employees, so they know the thoughts behind our decision-making process and strategic goals. So that enables them to make smart decisions, and it allows them to take risks and innovate and change how we work and think beyond the moment in a way that supports our goals and strategy.

Building Trust Into Workplace Culture

Ellen Bailey: There's a little bit of learning and development that goes into enabling an organization to be a trusting organization because you have to change some processes to allow people to do that. It's not just about folks' good intent. And we can do training and development and learning to help with behaviours, but you also have to have the processes in the mechanisms that support that.

Leaders Don't Have to Have All The Answers

Ellen Bailey: We fear that if we don't have the answers, people will question our ability. We are not comfortable with demonstrating authenticity and vulnerability due to that. And so, back to the Fearless Organization article. I will quote Amy Edmondson one more time when she says that in situations we haven't faced before, it is simply not possible to have all the answers. And so that's what I continue to express to our team. So we continue to grow and innovate and go and go beyond where we have been. So what got us here will not get us there. And so as we continue to try to advance the thought leadership to impact the world globally, to improve the practice of management, then we aren't going to have all those answers. And so we need to demonstrate that vulnerability internally, especially with our teams.

Leaders Should Facilitate Individual and Team Elevation

Ellen Bailey: We all have opportunities to facilitate someone's best, especially as leaders. And so, how do we do that so they can continue to excel? I find so many gaps in that because leaders often feel they need all the answers. We have leaders that are afraid people will run past them, and it's like, no, no, everybody wins when you facilitate your team best, and you can identify with them on a human level to help them be most productive. It's fun and awesome to see people you work with continue to excel and do great things.

For more leadership insights check out my blog: 3 Ways to Develop an Intentional Approach to Leadership


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