Organizational Learning and Leadership – How Each Feed Off Each Other

Organizational learning and leadership go together like coffee and donuts. Nobody’s arguing that. They are very closely interwoven, and in truth, you can’t have one without the other, and expect it to work out too well. But, have you ever really taken the time to consider how one feeds of the other and vice versa? What is the extent of it, and what key elements of either truly interleaves with the other?

Organizational Learning and Leadership – How Each Feed Off Each Other

You may be thinking “well, I know it’s important that they play off each other, does it really matter if I know why?” Well, the answer to this is yes. Organizational learning and leadership are both crucial components in the business world, and where one exists the other does. In order to be a great leader, and in order for successful organizational learning to be conducted, you should understand why they interrelate, so that you can do your best to make this happen.

So, let’s talk a minute about why they play off each other. First, let’s address the first question you likely now have. That question? “I see where organizational learning cannot exist without leadership, but how does the presence of leadership make organizational learning a thing?”

Organizational Learning and Leadership

Well, that’s a very good question, so be proud of asking it. It’s ok to lie and said you asked it even if you didn’t, too. We won’t tell. Well, consider your role as a leader. You are not just the role model for the people beneath you, but also their shepherd. You must guide them when they stray, and teach them to be all they can be within the context of their jobs and the organization. They must, therefore, learn from your guidance. And, micro managing individuals too far isn’t going to work out So, as you manage a team or a division, you’re going to find that in managing and leading them, they must collectively learn and adapt to your guidance. This is where leadership makes organized learning exist by its very nature.

Now, it goes the other way for more obvious reasons. Organized learning without a central directive to determine what needs learned, and who should learn what is just going to be chaotic and not accomplish anything. There needs to be an authority who can determine the need for organizational learning, and who can work out the best strategy, from a detached perspective, for the group that plays to their strengths and works to address their weaknesses. From within this set, the data would be biased, so leadership is critical in creating a pure metric here.

Beyond this, leadership is the cornerstone of solidarity for the team. Without leadership to trust in, they will be unsure and directionless. It would be a frightening ordeal indeed without some kind of ultimate authority to affirm success and indicate definite failure.


Leadership is also the role model for the team during the learning, and should demonstrate new learning in action to affirm the importance and viability of whatever this new learning may be. Otherwise, they may learn but not apply the learning as is intended.

So, as you can clearly see, organizational learning and leadership are parts of a whole to levels you probably never before imagined.

Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog