The Power of Experiential Leadership Development

I had a conversation with my teenage daughter about the LeaderSurf leadership development program and what I do for a living.  As I explained that the program takes business executives away from the office for a week of learning and development, she nodding that it made sense to her.  Strangely it does not make sense to many companies.  They are stuck in a broken paradigm that leadership development must occur in a classroom.

My insightful daughter listened intently as I explained that the program brings together six to ten executives from various companies and functions for a week of learning in Nicaragua.  The components include leadership assessments, executive coaching, team building activities and other components that are in most leadership programs.  Where LeaderSurf differs is in three key differentiators:

Water aid project

1) We spend an entire day doing a humanitarian aid community project.  This models servant leadership and allows our participants to make a sustainable difference in the lives of a poor Nicaraguan community.  The clean water aid project leaves our executives speechless and humbled.  This is a power approach to learning the importance of serving others as a leader.

LeaderSurf surfing lesson

2) Participants participate in daily surfing lessons.  We believe that learning a new physical skill can be very enlightening.  By teaching executives to surf, we push them outside their comfort zones and into the learning zone.  The experience develops self awareness and breeds confidence.



3) LeaderSurf is conducted in a learning paradise.  The Buena Onda Beach Resort is an eco-friendly boutique hotel situated along the picturesque beaches of Playa Santana, Nicaragua.  We leverage the outdoor space as our classroom and make good use as nature for our learning environment.  We end each day on the beach for an activity called, "Sunset Reflections".  Each participant much share a specific learning from the day.  This encourages participants to own their daily learnings.  By articulating what you learned, you are twice as likely to retain the new knowledge.

As I finished explaining the program to my daughter, she reframed it as "A field trip for leaders".  Such a simple but poignant way to describe the program.  She went on to say that she too learns more when she goes on field trips with school than when she is sitting in the boring classroom.  Our learning model is broken and outdated.  It is time that more companies embrace experiential learning.

Andrea Derler from Bersin by Deloitte, a Deloitte Consulting group recently published a blog post: Experiential Leadership Development  I her post she states, "Effective leadership development has long moved beyond instructor-led, classroom-based education. Nowadays, leaders at all levels can learn through a blend of offerings including face-to-face interactions, learning platforms, immersive experiences and social connections."  Andrea goes on to highlight LeaderSurf and a few other examples of unique leadership development offerings.

When you organization is ready to make the shift to a more powerful model for leadership development, LeaderSurf is ready to help you build better performing leaders.