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Let's 'See Each Other Through' the Learning

Carol François mage
Carol François

I've decided to take the advice from my last blog and "read, read, and read some more" as an antidote to my summer learning slide.  I'm embarrassed to say our bookshelves at home and the virtual book list on my iPad are full of unread and half-read tomes that could be great subjects for this project. What I found is that many of the books are written by speakers booked for the 2014 Learning Forward Annual Conference, so I've decided to start with them.

First on my reading list is Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization by Daniel Pontefract, who is scheduled on the thought leader track at the 2014 Learning Forward Annual Conference in Nashville. Pontefract is chief envisioner at Telus, Canada's largest telecommunications company. As head of the Telus Transformation Office, Pontefract helps organizations and leaders improve employee engagement, leadership development, and organizational culture.

Pontefract writes that central to a successful organization is a culture of engagement, while the enemy of productivity and innovation is employee disengagement. Early in the book, he cites instances where companies failed to excel because their employees felt disconnected from the mission because of old-style, top-down management. His motto, "We're not here to see through each other; we're here to see each other through," summarizes his authentic and upbeat approach to work and the work world. In both his book and on his website, Pontefract outlines his beliefs:

  • Collaborate first and collaborate often;
  • Be a strong believer in a flat-based, team-first organizational model and culture;
  • Advocate for formal, informal, non-formal, and social learning and leadership;
  • Understand how learning, leadership, and being connected is a collaborative and continuous process.

What's exciting about Dan Pontefract's beliefs is they are just as relevant to educators as they are to business and corporate leaders. Teachers, administrators, and students can feel disenfranchised from the learning enterprise when leadership ignores the power of collaboration and collective investment in learning. School leaders and teachers who are "here to see each other through" create learning spaces where teachers and learners are held in high regard and respected for what they can contribute.

Flat Army demands we change our habits and mindsets about leading and learning.  The blueprint Pontefract lays out for such a change is worth following. I'm committed to incorporating some of his suggestions into my leadership style. I'm also pumped to hear him speak in Nashville and hope to share my own success story on how I'm creating a Learning Forward "flat army."

Carol François
Director of Learning, Learning Forward

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