“The aim of education is to enable individuals to continue their education” – John Dewey, Democracy and Education

During a summer lunch, a good friend of mine shared with me all his frustration. Despite years of experience in his job, he never got the opportunity to participate at management meetings or present in front of a customer. His boss always took the leading role and he was left with administrative work and not much learning. While discussing his case, we started to reflect on how leaders could behave to foster further leadership and on the way we wanted to be.

In corporate environments, the statement of John Dewey could become: “the role of leaders is to enable individuals to enter or continue their path to leadership”.

The word enabler derives from the Latin “habilis”, which means to make it possible for something to happen, to give someone or something the opportunity or permission to happen.

Leaders have the duty and honour to set the conditions for good learning situations to happen. They are appointed as leaders to guide their teams to a higher development stage altogether and allow each individual to move forward in its own career. If this does not happen, often frustration, disappointment and lack of commitment emerge.

That lunch made me more aware of my own behaviour, despite not being in charge of a team. I started to engage myself in a different manner, to observe closer the behaviours around me and to include the ones I perceived were left out. For instance, I invited junior managers to some trainings or meetings and I introduced them to other managers, to expand their network and increase their learning opportunities.

These small actions generated positive loops, that I am sure then further generated other positive loops. The change we want to see starts with us.

How can you be the enabler for a change you want to see?