Many of you may know that in addition to my work at Vistage, I serve as an adjunct professor for Seton Hall University’s Master of Arts in Strategic Communication & Leadership (MASCL) program. Just over a week ago, the 28th Learning Team was graduated from the program, and I would have to say that when it comes to learning teams, I know of no other team in recent memory which has performed better.
My work at Seton Hall serves as an interesting complement to what we do and what we espouse at Vistage. At Vistage, we believe that if you bring leaders together as peers to work on their toughest challenges or help one another achieve their loftiest aspirations, that the possibilities – personally and professionally – are endless. Interestingly enough, what makes for a great learning team and an effective, professionally facilitated peer advisory group are quite similar. Let’s explore five obvious similarities:
They engage as colleagues not competitors. Students who are secure enough and comfortable enough to break free from the classroom model with which they grew up, where they competed with other students for grades, will reap the greatest benefits from a learning team. CEOs meeting with other CEOs may lead different kinds of companies, but they share common challenges and work together accordingly.
They understand the power of dialogue. Students and business leaders alike, who understand how to engage in true dialogue, rather than debate or discussion, tend to have richer and more meaningful conversations. More listening and the lack of someone trying to prove himself “right” at the expense of other points of view, creates a broader possibility of outcomes.
They are skillfully guided by the Instructor or Vistage Chair. Both play the role of facilitator. They are both leaders and equals at the table and allow the group to flourish, while always maintaining the focus of the dialogue.
They learn to really trust each other. Whether it’s in the classroom (online or traditional) or at a Vistage meeting, the participants in the group must have complete trust in one another. Not only when it comes to sharing information, but also in allowing for an exchange where they trust that the only thing anyone in the room cares about is that a student/colleague learns or that a CEO reaches the best possible decision for his/her organization. There are no hidden agendas.
They believe in abundance. Students and peer advisory group members realize that no matter how much they contribute to the group, they will always get more in return and, as they do, the group only gets stronger.
These five similarities only scratch the surface of what makes learning teams and peer advisory groups truly effective and so much alike. I invite you to contribute your thoughts and add to the list!
I’d like to close by congratulating LT 28 on receiving their degrees and serving as such a positive example to us all. I’d also like to thank Jim Kouzes, who I had the pleasure of interviewing earlier this year for this blog. Jim was kind enough to play a part in LT 28′s graduation celebration as well. As a graduation gift to the students, the instructional team gave each student a copy of the book, Encouraging the Heart by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. What made the gift more special was that Jim agreed to sign personalized bookplates for all of the graduates. It not only encouraged our hearts, but reinforced one of the five exemplary leadership practices that Jim and Barry Posner outlined in their book, The Leadership Challenge. It’s model the way! I suspect we should probably add that to our list!