Blended Learning – Best Way to Develop Talent?

‘Personally, I am always willing to learn, though I don’t always like being taught.’ – Winston Churchill


Today, more than ever before, a manager’s ability and willingness to learn from experience is the foundation for successfully leading with impact. How do you become a leader?

Consider the 70-20-10 rule that emerged from 30 years of Centre For Creative Leadership’s Lessons of Experience research, which explores how executives learn, grow, and change over the course of their careers. This rule suggests that successful leaders learn within three clusters of experience: challenging assignments (70%), developmental relationships (20%), and coursework and training (10%).

Most organizations acknowledge that formal training alone can be limited in impact. Yet they continue to invest most of their training budget in classroom events and eLearning

assets. They struggle with how to systemize and evaluate a learning strategy that also includes workplace experiences and relationships.

The key to a True Blended Learning approach  is a combination of formal learning combined with workplace based or “informal” learning opportunities –addressing all segments of the 70-20-10 rule.


70% – from on-the-job experiences

  • Stretch assignments or committees
  •  Managing or being involved in a new project
  • Giving a presentation
  • Attending meetings in another department
  • Partnering with others on the team on a project
  • Being a “project” or “team lead”
  • Doing a job rotation
  • Managing an event

20% – Development Relationships

  • Shadowing someone in another role
  • Identify a mentor or peer coach
  • Give and ask for specific feedback on development areas
  • Get advice and guidance from experts in the skill areas you are focused on building
  • Attend presentations, lectures, events to learn from others

10% – through formal training, coursework


  • Classroom based skill building
  • Virtual classrooms and online learning
  • Games and simulations
  • eModules
  • Books, articles and courseware
  • Social learning – Twitter, Blogging, Linkedin
  • Webinars

The way leaders learn will change dramatically in the next few years. t’s impossible to separate learning from work – nor should you want to. The challenge is to support the learner with appropriate materials, technology platforms, and other “scaffolding” in the critical leadership domains of assignments and relationships on the path to leadership development.

Blended learning is not just about technology or mixing classroom with online experiences. It’s not about social media or the latest trends that promise to change the way learning happens forever.

It’s about building in a systematic, thoughtful manner, a structure and an ecosystem that enables and encourages learning continuously.  It’s about ingraining learning in the very DNA of the organization at as early a stage as possible. Only then would great talent and leaders get created.


Leveraging Strengths – Lessons from the Animal School!

animal school

Once upon a time the animals decided they must do something heroic to meet the problems of a “new world” so they organized a school. They had adopted an activity curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects.

The duck was excellent in swimming. But he made only passing grades in flying and was very poor in running.

The rabbit started at the top of the class in running but had a nervous breakdown because of so much makeup work in swimming.

The squirrel was excellent in climbing until he developed frustration in the flying class where his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of the treetop down. He also developed a “charlie horse” from overexertion and then got a C in climbing and D in running.

The eagle was a problem child and was disciplined severely. In the climbing class, he beat all the others to the top of the tree but insisted on using his own way to get there.

At the end of the year, an abnormal eel that could swim exceeding well and also run, climb and fly a little had the highest average and was valedictorian.

The Animal school story is similar to what is widely practiced in our academic institutions and organizations where standardization is the rule and uniqueness goes unnoticed. The predominant strategy of academic institutions and corporate world is overcoming weaknesses while leveraging strengths would bring better results.

Some of the most successful Leaders have the capability of recognizing the uniqueness in individuals and promoting their inherent strengths. Promoting an employee’s strengths has numerous benefits:

  • It enhances people performance and helps them move up the growth path
  • Helps promote better employee engagement and satisfaction at work
  • Fosters trust and confidence in organization culture

It is of utmost importance that we consciously promote and adopt ways to leverage strengths which are relevant to the job to promote them effectively. Most of the time, an employee’s talents or strengths need to be discovered, channelized and promoted in the right direction. Individual development plans need to talk about harnessing strengths as much as addressing development needs. A holistic development plan needs to work on dual approach of building strengths and managing development needs. While managers use various tools while trying to overcome development areas, leveraging strengths also needs a structured and consistent effort.

The 3X model described below empowers leaders to continuously explore and exploit the unique strengths of team members thus creating a virtuous cycle of personal development and business growth.

  1. Exposure – Talent needs to be promoted by providing visibility at the right places. Providing leadership exposure to unique skills and strengths helps build right level of connect and paves way for career development.
  2. Expertise – Building on passive strengths by imparting training and coaching on the same to convert it into active expertise. The employees can use their expertise to upskill their team members and peers thus creating and enhancing opportunities of peer and team learning.
  3. Experience – Last but not the least, more and more opportunities should be given to exercise the strengths in the form of high impact projects, organization and team level initiatives.