Shortly after I graduated college I realized that there was a huge skills gap between the knowledge I had gained in my business program and the skills that I needed to enter the workforce successfully. I had graduated ready to join the ranks of business leaders and CEOs, after all, this was what my undergraduate business program prepared me to do, but I discovered that there were no job openings for a 21 year old CEO. So like many graduates in the US I joined a relatively low paying management training program in the hopes of gaining skills and eventually securing a high profile job that paid well.

The training program was a decent one that had different modules focused on all the elements of the business. It also included a round robin style of activities that took us into different locations and departments.

Toward the end of the program I was assigned a position with a new manager who had a specific idea of the training program. He handed me a policies and procedures manual and instructed me to first read it then execute the series of transactions as the manual described.

At that time I knew little about leadership and learning styles. What ended up happening though is my manager gree frustrated with me and I became annoyed with him. I did not realize that the type of learning style that was best for me was totally different from him. Sadly he did not know either.

Fast forward a few years when I began to understand that our ability to succeed in a role is in part dependent on our learning style. I learned that when I was dealing with new staff or team members the way I engaged and onboarded them depended on how they learn not just how I presented the information.

I mentioned on a previous post that I attended a leadership training program this weekend related to the boyscouts. One of the primary tenants for engaging boyscouts is called the EDGE Method. EDGE is an acronym that stands for Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, and Enable. It is a simple approach that yields powerful results. It starts with an experienced person, even a young Boy Scout, explaining how something should be done, like tying a knot or packing for a camp out. Then, that skill is demonstrated. In other words you as the learner are shown how it is done. The benefit is it provides a visual example of how this skill should be applied. The third step is for the experienced trainer to guide the trainer or learner through doing this skill. During this time they make help them hands on and show them again. The forth step is to enable them by allowing them to perform that skill on their own and offer encouragement.

The beauty of this approach is that is has been proven as an effective learning method. It is an approach that can be applied to other disciplines such as project management and leadership. It works not only for young men between 11 and 16, but also for professionals of all types. I have heard from my colleagues who have been involved in Boy Scouts that they have applied it in their work environment and have seen a lot of success.

The key goal for us as professionals to remember is to ensure that we implement effective leadership development models that are scalable and flexible. From this perspective I believe this method can fit the bill and I look forward to applying it on my teams.