When times are tough what value is there in action learning?

In a recession every development activity is challenged.  Its value needs to be proven.  At a recent coaching workshop I heard a quote that has given me much food for thought:

“In tough economic times, talent and emotional engagement are the only natural competitive advantages” Follow this Path, Curt Coffman & Gabriel Gonzalez-Molina

Talent speaks for itself and is evident to all in any workplace situation. Those people who seem to be a natural at what they do, and excel in many activities.  You see this in every field.  It may be people working in the exceptionally demanding world of overseas development, with communities with few resources.  In the west it could be the public and health sector, a market like pharmaceuticals or a sector such as financial services.

Emotional engagement is something entirely different.  It speaks to people working with their hearts and souls, to caring about what they do and caring consistently.  I have heard this expressed as “the hearts and minds” of people.

Action learning can have an impact here.  It creates an environment where people trust each other and reach out to listen, support and challenge each other with the purpose of having the presenter take full responsibility for their issue.  Fully owning responsibility for a challenge at work means being entirely emotionally engaged with it.

Certainly it means being proactive in every way that suits the presenter, but more than these practical steps, it means owning it personally, staying focused on the whole of it and learning from the outcomes of the action taken.

Whether the presenter’s issue is a new area of work for them or a challenge in a professional relationship, being fully engaged with it emotionally and being available to learn from it within an action learning set, creates the greatest commitment an organisation can have.  Action learning during difficult economic times helps to build the most emotionally engaged workforce possible.

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