The Difficulties of Learning From Experience and the Need for Deliberate Practice

The Difficulties of Learning From Experience and the Need for Deliberate Practice There is a good deal of wisdom and common sense in what McCall (2010) has proposed with regard to using experience to develop leadership talent; however, there are at least two areas of concern regarding his arguments on recasting leader development primarily in terms of on‐the‐job experience. This commentary will focus specifically on issues associated with the difficulties of learning from experience and the overlooked role of deliberate practice in developing expertise. Learning the Lessons of Experience There is a hopeful assumption in McCall's proposed recasting that a given experience will elicit the desired or even a desirable leadership lesson. The “sure bet” that leadership is learned from experience—to the extent that it is learned, as he notes—is widely recognized as a core tenet in contemporary leadership development, largely due to McCall and colleagues' pioneering work in the area ( McCall, Lombardo, & Morrison, 1988 ). Despite this general recognition, the construct of work experience has been historically difficult to conceptualize and operationalize scientifically. Although McCall argues that there may not be any magic to discovering what is in an experience, it has turned out to be a tricky scientific proposition. One way that work experience has been http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Industrial and Organizational Psychology Wiley

The Difficulties of Learning From Experience and the Need for Deliberate Practice

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 2010 Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology
ISSN
1754-9426
eISSN
1754-9434
DOI
10.1111/j.1754-9434.2009.01195.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

There is a good deal of wisdom and common sense in what McCall (2010) has proposed with regard to using experience to develop leadership talent; however, there are at least two areas of concern regarding his arguments on recasting leader development primarily in terms of on‐the‐job experience. This commentary will focus specifically on issues associated with the difficulties of learning from experience and the overlooked role of deliberate practice in developing expertise. Learning the Lessons of Experience There is a hopeful assumption in McCall's proposed recasting that a given experience will elicit the desired or even a desirable leadership lesson. The “sure bet” that leadership is learned from experience—to the extent that it is learned, as he notes—is widely recognized as a core tenet in contemporary leadership development, largely due to McCall and colleagues' pioneering work in the area ( McCall, Lombardo, & Morrison, 1988 ). Despite this general recognition, the construct of work experience has been historically difficult to conceptualize and operationalize scientifically. Although McCall argues that there may not be any magic to discovering what is in an experience, it has turned out to be a tricky scientific proposition. One way that work experience has been

Journal

Industrial and Organizational PsychologyWiley

Published: Mar 1, 2010

References

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