Experimental Training Program: Wilderness/Adventure Learning

Topics: Leadership, Management, Skill Pages: 7 (2165 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Experimental Training Program: Wilderness/Adventure Learning

Training employees is a fundamental element of a corporations success. A company succeeds only as well as the people running it can perform. This training process can cover many skills and go into many areas of expertise. One key element that has only recently come into action is an outdoor- based experiential training program.

Commonly called "ropes courses," wilderness courses or adventure learning programs have been in use in the USA since the early 1980's, and by organizations in the UK since the early 1970's. Outdoor programs have been most beneficial when used to promote effective work teams and used to enhance leadership and management skills in the participants. Outdoor- based training programs seem to accomplish these objectives by allowing participants to develop a high level of trust in their peers, improve their problem-solving ability, and generally improve the level of interpersonal communications between group members.

Companies are looking for leaders that can launch them into a new era. Constant improvement is necessary to meet the growth of challenging competition. So who defines leadership? What is a leader and how would you raise these skills that may be laying dormant in your subordinates?

Organizations need great leaders to help them successfully survive the many difficulties of this decade. Yet, the very notion of leadership has rapidly degenerated into a cliché, a buzz word. In many people's minds, leadership has become identified with an overly simplistic conception of vision and empowerment. Although these concepts do play an important role in the leadership process, they only scratch the surface of what an exceptional leader actually does on a day-to-day basis.

What do leaders really do to make an organization work well? In my research I found that great leaders exhibit nine different kinds of behaviors that enable them to bring out the best in the people around them. Some of the nine behaviors of leadership listed below involve building participatory teams, some involve using "situational management strategies," while others enhance personal resources. Listed separately, the nine behaviors include:

Developing people.
Being able to influence others.
Encouraging teamwork.
Empowering people.
Using multiple options thinking.
Taking intelligent risks.
Being passionate about work.
Having a strong, clear vision.
Stretching one's personal creativity.

While many people think leaders are unique, even born to that state of excellence, I have found just the opposite. With proper experiential training, it is possible for people to learn these leadership behaviors. In other words, leaders can be developed. By all means they should be developed at many levels in an organization because leadership in a hierarchical situation stimulates the best in their followers and thereby increases overall productivity. In experiential training, the focus in on inner development. At the beginning of one leadership training course, participants are asked for their own definitions of leadership - so they can see, hear, and explore their ideas about the real leadership qualities. Most participants do not realize that there are fundamental behaviors of exceptional leadership. Instead they tend to believe the common myths about leadership - that it is a rare skill exhibited only by those at the top, that leaders are born and always display charisma and that they are strongly authoritative "take-charge" people Dispelling these myths is a key and briefly I will explain the nine, learnable behaviors of leaders.

In order to go beyond a cognitive understanding, participants must begin to experience these behaviors as they might occur at work, hence the name experiential education. They will begin see that leaders have a strong interest in the people working for them, for when a...

References: Corporate Quality Universities, lessons in building a world-class work force
(Richard D Irwin, INC., 1994)
Conceptualizing Reflection in Teacher development (J. Calderhead and P. Gates,
Training and Development Yearbook, 1995/1996 (Prentice Hall, INC., 1995)
Experienced based Training and Development, a professional group within
The association of experiential Education
2885 Aurora Ave., Suite 28
Boulder, CO. 80303-2252
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