Workforce Readiness Through Leadership as Practice Development

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Future Institute Research Center

As America’s workforce changes, so does the nature of the work and skills necessary for success. Employers are increasingly in need of a workforce that effectively engages in collaborative leadership. The educational opportunities, such as community college and two-year degree programs, need to include collaborative leadership learning experiences to build workforce readiness. The curricula need to be reimagined to prepare the workforce for effective leadership in an increasingly diverse environment. More specifically, students need practical skill development in collaborative leadership. One approach to helping students understand collaborative leadership involves the introduction and development of Leadership-as-Practice (L-A-P) (Raelin, 2003). Raelin’s leaderful approach focuses on the four Cs of leadership practice: concurrent, collaborative, collective, and compassionate. Concurrent leadership highlights that multiple team members can lead simultaneously—not just one person at a time directing the team’s activities and focus. Collective leadership involves everyone in the group actively participating in leadership. Collaborative leadership emphasizes that all members are engaging in dialogue with one another to co-create ideas and solutions, and everyone can speak for the entire team about their work. Compassionate leadership focuses on each member’s commitment to preserving the dignity of every team member, notwithstanding differences, such as cultural background and social status. Shifting from a more traditional or conventional leadership perspective to embrace more leaderful practice, where all members of the workforce contribute to leadership, can be achieved through developmental processes, such as leadership as practice development (LaPD). This approach is characterized by its efforts to “change patterns and thinking that could transform a culture of mediocrity to one of excellence and resilience'' (Raelin, 2020). LaPD involves four principles: -Reviewing and renewing the leadership concept held by learners and their organizations. -Surfacing and working with leadership processes, practices, and interactions. -Working in the learners’ context on their organizational problems and adaptive challenges. -Working with the emotional and political dynamics of leadership in the system. This presentation will focus on what we have learned to date as part of an agriculture workforce training project for collaborative leadership to help build workforce readiness.

Raelin, J. A. (2003). Creating leaderful organizations: How to bring out leadership in everyone. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Raelin, J. A. (2020). Toward a methodology for studying leadership-as-practice. Leadership, 16(4), 480–508.