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Learning is a courageous act

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Bell (2002) noted that the preamble to learning is risk, the willingness to take a shaky step without the security of perfection. I find this to be a compelling thought and as such I will attempt to develop it a bit further. An individual’s willingness to be less than perfect is a courageous act as credibility and perhaps even a career may be perceived to be in jeopardy. Obviously, if the desire for learning is to endure some of this risk must be mitigated and that mitigation comes from the leaders of the organization. I argue that there are two primary ways in which leaders facilitate learning. The first is through information caretaking; the concept that information is a valuable resource and that the allocation of said at the right time, to the right people, and without undue restrictions enhances the creativity capacity of the organization. As such continuous communication by leaders is essential and will increase creativity and innovativeness, because it accumulates knowledge inside the organization, and it becomes possible to develop these shared ideas (Hypia & Parjanen, 2008).

Second, leaders facilitate learning through ethical leadership behaviors. Specifically, fair and balanced decision making shapes follower’s perception of the social exchange relationship resulting in followers reciprocating the same behaviors (Avey, Palanski & Walumbwa, 2011). Therefore ethical leaders can have an impact of the self-efficacy of their employees through their credibility and ethical standards (Avey, Wensing & Palanski, 2012). Ethical leaders provide a psychologically stable and safe environment where creativity is endorsed as a standard organizational practice. The psychologically stable environments offer a form of consistency that often mitigates the fear that can develop during organizational change events. Human beings are adaptable creatures however, expecting “double” adaptation because of inconsistent leadership is beyond most people’s abilities.

Avey, J. B., Palanski, M. E., & Walumbwa, F. O. (2011). When leadership goes unnoticed: The moderating role of follower self-esteem on the relationship between ethical leadership and follower behavior. Journal of Business Ethics, 98(4), 573-582.

Avey, J. B., Wernsing, T. S., & Palanski, M. E. (2012). Exploring the process of ethical leadership: The mediating role of employee voice and psychological ownership. Journal of business ethics, 107(1), 21-34.

Bell, C.R. (2002). Managers as mentors: Building partnerships for learning. SanFrancisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Hyypia, M., & Parjanen, S. (2008). Boosting the Creativity and Communication in the Innovation Processes-Preliminary Results from the Qualitative Study. In 5th International Conference on Intellectual Capital, Knowledge Management and Organisational Learning: New York Institute of Technology, New York, USA, 9-10 October 2008 (p. 225). Academic Conferences Limited.

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