Experiential Learning

What is Experiential Learning?

An Experiential Learning approach for leaders and managers shows to help organisations unlock potential and increase their impact.

Experiential Learning goes beyond traditional skills training and knowledge transfer. It is the process of learning through experience.

Ronald Heifetz of Harvard University explains:

“Group learning that purposefully creates the conditions for adaptive – or experiential – learning is very different from technical that imparts knowledge. Experiential learning allows participants to experiment with their direct experience during the training as input for learning”.


Why do many organisations adopt the approach?

Many leaders are successful in their roles as their technical skills and knowledge have elevated them to be top of their departments.

However, the critical skills to lead successfully in the ever-changing environment are more relational than technical. They are about influencing and persuading. They are about workplace culture and how to unite teams towards strategic goals. They are also about working with the unknown –to respond and adapt to changes in service of the whole organisation.

Leaders learn those vital skills faster when they experience for themselves their impact. Thus, many employers have turned to experiential learning methods to strengthen their leadership and management capability.


What makes the approach successful?

From our experience, an Experiential Learning approach can be highly successful for several reasons.

We have found that leaders and managers come away with a better understanding of themselves, their beliefs and values, and how to best lead and manage their people.

When leaders understand the building blocks of their psychology, they free themselves from traditional ingrained ways of behaving. They adopt new styles and techniques to enable better decision-making and permanent change.

There is also a bundle of research to show the impact of experiential learning on individuals, teams and organisations, such as these papers here and here.

If you'd like to learn more about experiential learning methods, connect with us here, or go to the Training Courses page for information.

Written by:
Jonny Lancaster

Business Development Partner

April 14, 2022