Community Learning—Your Business Skills Can Help Emerging Leaders

Did you know that young adults that have had mentoring are 130 percent more likely to hold leadership positions? When it comes to finding a mentor, many are turning to online communities for help with their career paths. Our future leaders are instinctively more innovative.

Most of us can think of people in our lives who helped us by providing information, offering advice, presenting a challenge we had to solve, or simply took an interest in our development as a person. It was their intervention and mentorship that helped us become aware of a resource, helped us consider an opportunity, or encouraged us to achieve a goal. Supportive relationships with peers are extremely valuable.

In the digital age, finding peers to connect with is as easy as a Google search. Community learning has been gaining recognition and facilitating a more pragmatic choice-based form of learning. Community learning allows for many mentors to weigh in on topics, as well as offer advice and encouragement to help others make good decisions, how to follow the right path, and stay motivated. Online communities are safe, providing a secure portal to share and learn skills. Online communities have leveled the field for anyone with a thirst for knowledge.

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Employing Your Skills for the Community

Online communities are as successful as its active engagement rate. A thriving online community has its foundation on strong individuals who add value to the community regularly.

But what do these active contributors get from helping people?

Most of the active contributors in online communities share their wisdom and knowledge for the sole purpose of helping others. Many come to these online communities to get insights and opinions from the industry experts. Leader Networks, a research and development firm, conducted a study called The Social Mind which found that professionals spend nearly 40 percent of their time online interacting in peer-to-peer communities.

Community learning allows you to contribute and uplift others by sharing your knowledge, experience, and skills. The time you spend in online communities sharing your knowledge will also help you network in your industry, stay informed, and keeps your own knowledge up-to-date.

Why do emerging leaders need the support of communities?

The Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2016 showed that 89 percent of executives who took the survey believed the need to strengthen, reengineer, and improve organizational leadership was a priority. More than half of the executives surveyed reported their companies were not ready to meet their leadership needs and only 7 percent had an accelerated leadership program in place.

Weak leadership is attributed to the reluctance of senior leaders in guiding or providing avenues for the emerging leaders to grow from the beginning.

The research also stated that many of these emerging leaders are exploring new forms of learning outside their companies and are turning to resources like online communities to develop and equip themselves.

“Learning is an ‘environment’ and an ‘experience,’ leveraging experts, content, and materials sourced and recommended by external communities as well as by other employees and internal experts.” (Deloitte)

The old saying, ’Leaders are born’ is becoming irrelevant in this modern era of online communities.

Fostering emerging leaders to success

You might be thinking, “What do I have to offer the next generation of emerging leaders?” Here are some ideas:

  • Information—Mentors have the experience and knowledge of years in the industry. Sharing your expertise is an invaluable resource.
  • Advice—Mentors give educated advice, be it academic, career, or personal—the advice of someone who has “been there-done that” can be helpful for others just starting out.
  • Be a Role Model—Show the next generation of leaders how you have done it successfully.
  • Give Direction—You know the ropes and you faced similar challenges. Give the new guys and gals some direction on how to navigate the industry.
  • Provide Challenges—There is no better way to gain experience then to learn hands-on. Give them some challenging projects to handle.
  • Support—Everyone needs a little encouragement; someone on their team. Be that person for an emerging leader. A supportive environment is conducive to success.
  • Network—That old saying, “It’s who you know” is as true today as it ever was. Making connections and networking is how we get to the next level—even if that next level is with another company.

You can do all these things through online communities, helping the emerging leaders to shape themselves to become bright and successful leaders of tomorrow.

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