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Career Builder

Career Builder: Building Your Own Education

A Career Builder Story: “Students working on the Chapel”. Below is a photo of a panel from the Driver Memorial Window, University of Chester.

This stained glass window once sat proudly in the University of Chester’s chapel. It depicted a scene from the early 1800’s, showing some of the English college’s first students helping in its construction.

Quite literally they were the university’s original career builders, building their own education! It was a vivid image and a useful reminder of what is still true. That together, learners can create a lasting contribution not only to their own development, but to that of their colleagues and their organisations.

For us, this lies at the heart of managing our development. It’s true that knowledge can be imparted in the classroom, but knowledge is also to be gained from shared experience.

We should never overlook the resources which surround us everyday. As managers, we should try to create a fertile environment in which we can all learn, and draw inspiration, both from our own experience and from the vast pool of experience that surrounds us. Think about using these three vital principles for work-based learning:


Career Builder

  1. Compelling insights
  2. Significant conversations
  3. Putting learning to work

Now it’s time for a “T” break:

    • Think about it;

    • Talk about it;

    • Try it……..

Compelling Insights: Think About It!

Most of us would intuitively recognise the power of stepping back and reflecting on our practices, but how many of us routinely do this? Managers learn much more from their experience if they give themselves time and space. Use these for critical reflection and for the development of new perspectives.

Try to find some time, every day, to think about ideas from leading thinkers. Use these periods to discover new perspectives then relate them to your current work situations. When combined with the other work-based, career builder principles, these activities may suggest useful opportunities and compelling insights.

Significant Conversations: Talk About It!

Actively encourage open debate and discussion between your colleagues. The sharing of experiences and insights can add to your organisation’s knowledge base and to your own development. Managing challenging but supportive discussions can be a valuable educational tool. These discussions may reveal valuable and sometimes surprising ideas, plus practical suggestions as to how these might be applied. Use some of the career builder, or other themes from this website to open up discussions. Capitalise on the wealth of experience possessed by your colleagues by encouraging significant conversations.

“An Easy Way To Become A Conversationalist” is a chapter in Dale Carnegie’s classic self-development book: How to Win Friends and Influence People. The wisdom and sincerity in this book greatly bely what some consider an unfortunate title. To lay the foundations for some significant conversations, whether in work or social settings, some of his words are worth quoting here:

“So if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.”

Putting Learning To Work: Try It!

Though not his, two other quotes from Carnegie’s book are also worthy of note:

“Education is the ability to meet life’s situations,” and “the great aim of education is not knowledge but action”.

Putting the learning gained from insights and conversations to work is the third career builder principle. Effective management can’t be separated from its context. Start by thinking about the right questions to ask. Then look to draw in the relevant management concepts and theories that will help you take action.

Try them out in your own workplace. Think about applying the practical suggestions arising from your significant conversations. Involve your colleagues in the process and outcomes, refining or adjusting actions as necessary. Learn from your experience and share this in any subsequent discussions.We believe that connecting these three strands enables a truly fulfilling work-based learning experience. One that facilitates a virtuous circle. People bring their education and experience to work. Sharing and building on these results in growth for managers, their colleagues and for the organisations in which they work.

Of course we should never underestimate the values of wisdom from outside our organisations. We’ve developed the “T-Break” model in our article: Leadership Exercises: Putting the Best Ideas to Work. Follow the link for a full explanation, but here’s a sneak preview….




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