The transformative power of action learning

For the past four years Action Learning Associates has worked with the Clore Social leadership Programme (Clore Social) to offer action learning as a core element of the first 12 months of their Fellowship programme. It is a space where Fellows can reflect on their leadership journey, share their experiences and learn from each other through applying the rigour and discipline of action learning to the challenges they encounter in this significant development year.

As one of the three facilitators working each year with the cohort of Fellows, it is a joy and privilege to work with some of the brightest and best in the social sector.  They have gained a place on the programme because they have already demonstrated their leadership – in many cases they have set up social enterprises or charities and in other cases they have already contributed significantly to the leadership of larger organisations.  Each year some of the CSLP cohort value the experience of action learning so highly that they choose to train as action learning facilitators.

This is what the set who worked with me through the last year said:

Daniela PapiDaniela Papi:

Loved the action learning process – love, love, loved it. Have loved getting trained in this and using it in my new job.  I’ve personally gained so much from feeling connected and safe in this group.

We’ve been a sounding board for each other in this process and I am so grateful for it. Knowing you have a safe place to talk through the big things in life is such a gift and a great de-stresser.

Maria AdebowaleMaria Adebowale:

I’ve really enjoyed the action learning set. It’s been a fantastic space for focused thinking and listening



Gareth Dix

Gareth Dix:

I feel some real bonds of friendship have developed as a result of action learning …great trust through confidentiality

I am not just lighter leaving action learning I’m lighter arriving at action learning

Action learning is an approach I’ve taken into other environments

My world is bigger without losing sight of land (I have a greater perspective and apply it to my daily routine)

Eugenie TeasleyEugenie Teasley:

I feel as though I have taken advantage of the time and been more present in them (action learning set meetings) than I often am elsewhere. The structure and routine of the sessions has really helped this

I’ve learned all that I was hoping for from the process– and just the power of asking open questions and listening to what others are saying (not to what you’re hoping to hear)

I feel close to and hugely trusting and appreciative of my fellow “ALSers”

Michael CookeMichael Cooke:

I have been able to talk through a wide range of issues and challenges in my working life

The action learning approach has enabled me to identify ways forward with a number of knotty problems.  As a result, I have made changes that have had a positive impact on myself and my team

I found the approach so useful that I undertook the facilitator training course so that I could carry the learning benefits into my own organisation

I believe that the way I do 1-2-1s with my team has changed considerably as a result of exposure to action learning.  I am much more comfortable with silence, and am much more prepared to ask probing open questions to get to the core of problems that my team are experiencing

Baljeet Sandhu

Baljeet Sandhu:

Action learning met all my expectations and then some!  An incredibly important part of my ‘leadership’ journey.  From the start, the sessions have been a great space for me to share and I have looked forward to attending – indeed I felt it crucial during the growth and change taking place in my work and personal life. The ability to be vulnerable and vibrant – whilst at the same time connecting the ‘self’ to one’s ‘leadership’ journey – who am I in all of this?  Having the opportunity to share, connect and entrust wonderful and inspiring fellows has made me stronger, braver and wiser.

Our facilitator, Ruth, has not only allowed for the set to flourish but I feel has also been involved ’fully’ – a part of our set – an inspiration and her sense of calmness and encouragement has fostered a very powerful and safe learning environment. Leadership therapy!

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