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Monday, January 21, 2008

Learning to Lead

By Philomena Rego

As a social worker educated in India, I had been through a graduate program where field placement was a requirement. At the time, only a few institutions were doing internships and fieldwork but now these approaches are commonplace in colleges as a way of providing students with practical experience.

Looking back, I gained work exposure and the application of theory to practice from the fieldwork, but the experience produced little insight about myself and my ability to work with others. It was ultimately of little long-term value.

In returning to India with an eye for ways to make leadership development possible for young people, it occurs to me that these field experiences are a fertile ground for building self-awareness and team skills. For this, we can couple these programs with assessment, reflection, coaching, and feedback. This would impart students with not only practical experience in their field of study, but the critical leadership skills that they can use for a lifetime.

Employers in India have complained that fresh hires arrive with a deficit of soft skills. The value of this particular approach is that with the added leadership emphasis, we could transform a common practice into a potentially powerful and valuable action learning platform.

We’ve begun discussions with a couple of Indian colleges to work to prototype an action learning approach for students. If successful they may be a model that can be scaled across the educational landscape to help turn a new generation of learners into leaders.

1 comment:

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