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3 Keys To Building A Learning Organization
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By Prasad Kaipa

Creativity, empowerment and leadership are usually talked about as independent entities, but I believe they are intrinsically inseparable and the cornerstones of a learning organization.

Creativity

Creativity demands that people think in new ways. You actually have to "unthink" and "unlearn" to discover new ideas and new ways of seeing. You must stretch your limits, challenge your own wisdom, and try to look at things with new eyes. Step outside of your familiar environment and view it as if you are from another country, or are 20 years younger, or 20 years older, or of another sex. Push yourself. All creativity is boundary-crossing, stepping into new territory. The braver you are, the more dramatic the results you'll achieve.

Empowerment

Managers must encourage empowerment at all levels if they want people to be daring and creative. Create an environment in which people trust each other, communicate openly, and see, through example, that risktaking is supported.

A good way to establish trust and bridge the credibility gaps that often exist in business is to share and have empathy for other's situ-ations. If others are working long hours and you have extra time on your hands, offer to help. If you think someone in the company feels powerless, let them see how you, too, are powerless at times. Only when the power differences between management and employees are minimized can the two really support and empower each other. Give people a
reason to band together, to help each other and feel they are part of the same team.

Managers must show they are serious about empowering their employees, by providing the most basic needs like childcare and healthcare. Take care of these concerns and workers will be freer to concentrate on their jobs and will have more time and energy for creative endeavors and risk-taking. They'll also feel their company cares about them.

Leadership

Leadership can come from anywhere. It lies in one's ability to work with and empower others, and to be creative with the space, resources, and people that are available. It encourages risk-taking and honors those who make mistakes along the way. It encourages people to come up with alternative approaches and solutions. The leader's role is not to create a mono-culture, but to share and develop leadership in others so there is true interdependent diversity in the organization.

Leaders must be able to access the entire body of knowledge carried within the people of their organizations. Their job is to pay attention to the gifts of all workers and encourage workers to share with each other. But, workers will do this only if their company empowers them, makes them feel secure, and shows them that their ideas have validity. Only then will leaders be able to gather everyone's vision and knowledge and, thus, have what it takes to create a continuously
learning organization.



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