Leading a Learning Organization

Leading a Learning Organization

Leading a Learning Organization

By Dr Nilsa Fleury, DeD, FPA-BM Director of Education

Education is a key for the next decades and the education system needs to prepare the next generation with a new model of schools and ways of learning. Wood (in Chawla &Renesch, 2006) said “Education must take leadership in co-evolving with the restructuring efforts in other parts of the society: business, health and communities” (p. 404). Today’s classroom is structuring tomorrow’s workplace (Chawla & Renesch, 2006). School setting creates opportunities to build a learning organization, in which students can enhance their skills and pursue their goals to a better future. As leaders, teachers would use necessary tools and strategies (e.g., critical thinking, mastering change, dialogues, knowledge sharing) to support their students in a process of grow.

Chawla and Renesch (2006) reflected that building communities of commitment is a great chance to move forward. Transforming fragmentation, competition, and reactiveness in new culture systems would build a process of learning. The new way of thinking, feeling, and being, in which recovers the memory of whole systems, cooperation, and creation would build a learning community. Well-built communities bring the new systems worldview, the idea of help each other, and creativity. Building learning communities with a nature of commitment that goes beyond people to their organizations.

The real learning occurs with the development of the new capabilities in a continuous cycle of theoretical action and practical conceptualization (Chawla & Renesch, 2006). It will create changes inside the organizations. Changes come from moments of crises, but some learning comes from these changes. The fragmentation of the church is a great example of the changes through the Centuries and the seeds are evident today. In the past, Galileo proposed that the earth is not the center of the universe, and three fundamental theses shift the understanding of mankind and the world: (1) the primacy of the whole involved in three-part process such as break the system, study, and understand the whole from the parts; (2) the community nature of the self that discovered that at the core of a person is pure energy and the network of contractual commitments; and (3) language as generative practice , recognized as tradition of observation, and meaning shared by the community (Chawla & Renesch, 2006). In a learning organization, people stand for a vision with creativity, and thrive in a world of change.

According to Chawla and Renesch (2006)  “A learning organization must be grounded in three foundations: (1) a culture based on transcendent human values of love, wonder, humility, and compassion; (2) a set of practices for generative conversation and coordinated action; and (3) a capacity to see and work with the flow of life as a system” (p. 32). Some strategies of learning arise through performance, practice, and process-oriented design. Transactional learners are more conventional, but they add new ideas and make changes to become transformational learners. The cycle of community-building involves practical experimentation, working together, knowing each other, and applying new knowledge and skills. The five disciplines of Senge (Smith, 2012)- systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, building a sharing vision, and team leading- show a series of principles that each one can study, master, and integrate into his/her life.

Each one of these principles can assist leaders teach followers the best path to challenge the future. In addition, emotion could assist with understanding learning organizations. Defensive reactions from individuals and teams and the process of communication could be the problem that needs to observe in learning organizations (Vince, 2002). However, emotional expression linked to the individual with the dynamics of the organization is the key of organizational learning. Among the strategic importance of emotions in organizational learning, fears and anxiety provide a basis of learning individually and collectively in different ways. Further, Vince (2002) said “It is possible to travel from the start point of anxiety” (p. 79).  Teachers as a leaders need to work with students’ emotions to follow their goals and objectives and be successful. Learning organizations can change the process of teaching and learning for better future of the next generation.


Chawla, S., & Renesch, J. (Eds.). (2006). Learning organizations: Developing cultures for tomorrow’s workplace. Portland. OR: Productivity Press.

Smith, P. A. C. (1999). The learning organization ten years on: A case study. The Learning Organization, 6(5), 217-223.

Vince, R. (2002). The impact of emotion on organizational learning. Human Resource Development International, 5(1), pp 73-85. doi: 10.1080/136788601/10016904.

The FPA-BM has as Director of Education Dr. Nilsa Fleury, Ed.D. Dr. Nilsa, is a consultant, university professor and information analyst. Dr. Nilsa graduated in Business Administration from FACE – UFMG, postgraduate in Industrial Economics – UFMG, Specialization in Information Systems by UNA – Cepederh. She holds a Master in Business Science and Doctorate in Education, concentration in Leadership at Nova Southeastern University. She worked as a consultant for the government and private sector in Brazil, USA and Canada. In addition, Dr. Nilsa taught business in some universities in Brazil. She teaches Business and Education courses for undergraduate and graduate courses in the USA