“Has the Journey prepared you for the Destination?”-Experience in Talent Development

Talent Development is best accomplished with experiences and this post will discuss how that takes place at a high level.  As I often do, I’ll use an analogy that relates back to something near and dear to me, college baseball.  Not everyone will agree or like my example, but I find it be quite relevant to the topic at hand.

Two baseball teams squared off last month in Omaha at the College World Series.  One team had not lost in over 20 games and the other had played quite well during the same stretch, but had encountered a rougher path to the hallowed ground in Omaha.   The team who traveled the more challenging path responded well when adversity surrounded them in the College World Series while the team with the lofty record had experienced a much easier path during the year and faltered when they encountered adversity in Omaha.  The bottom line is this: experience is a great teacher in both baseball and leadership development and failure can be a valuable experience for those learning to lead as well as those wanting to advance in the baseball world.

The journeys of experience also help prepare us for the destination ahead when we discuss leadership development.  CCL has focused on the lessons of experience for years and their developmental planning guides focus primarily on putting leaders in the right experiences in order to prepare them for the journeys ahead.  Knowing the ultimate destination is important, but just as important is gaining the first-hand experience that comes from growing a business unit, paring down a business unit, dealing with conflict, or working with challenging staff members.  These skills are not developed while reading about them in a book, but they are gained from trial and error as well as from feedback that comes from peers, subordinates and superiors in the workplace.

If you want to reach the promised land, you may need to spend some time wandering in the desert.  The Israelites spent forty years wandering before they entered the promised land.  They would have never appreciated the gift they received until they understood the disappointment that comes from the journey.

So too it is for leadership development.  We all need to spend some time in challenging roles, even disappointing experiences, in order to fully appreciate and savor when we reach the top of the mountain.

What challenges have you encountered on your journey?