Learning is a process, and works best when it is viewed as more than merely a program. Leadership development can include formal or classroom-based training—but it is just one piece of the learning puzzle that must have corresponding pieces back on the job.

Research supports the value of extending learning into the workplace and connecting the workplace into formal learning. Most executives cite on-the-job experiences as the key events that shaped them as leaders and taught them important skills, behaviors, or mindsets. In fact, research shows that senior executives distribute their sources of key developmental experiences as 70% on-thejob challenges, 20% other people, and 10% formal coursework and training (Lombardo & Echinger, 1996; Wilson, Van Velsor, Chandrasekar, & Criswell, 2014). We use 70-20- 10 as a guideline, not a formula for creating learning experiences. Yet, we know that experiences that focus on creating learning in all three categories can boost learning transfer and accelerate development.

Learning transfer is also a social process. Learning—and the desired performance that comes from learning—does not take place in isolation. The work context, including the level of support from role models, mentors, peers, coaches, and bosses, has a powerful impact on turning lessons learned into leadership in action (Blume, Ford, Baldwin, & Huang, 2010).

Drawing on our understanding of and experience with adult learners, we’ve created a “3 x 3 x 3 Model for Learning Transfer.” This framework informs our leadership development work—and can be applied to development programs or initiatives within your organization.

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