Community, Capability, Content: 3 Takeaways From The ISA Conference

Community, Capability, Content: 3 Takeaways From The ISA Conference

At the end of March, Leah Parkhill-Reilly and I had the opportunity to indulge in our own professional development when we attended the ISA Association of Learning Providers Annual Business Review in beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona. As a coaching company, the ISA provides companies like ours the opportunity to network with peers and colleagues who operate in the same space and face similar challenges.

As anyone who’s participated in one of our Roundtable peer coaching programs knows, there is a huge amount of value that can be extracted from peer groups. Our experience at ISA can be summed up in three main areas: Community, Capability and Content.

  1. Community: it doesn’t have to be a lonely road. One of the things I personally value the most about any peer group but in this case, the ISA in particular, is the opportunity to connect with like-minded people. As a Founder of my business, it’s great to be able to connect with other Founders who are at different stages of growth. There’s something very comforting about realizing that the struggles I face aren’t unique and even better when the lessons learned by those who’ve gone before me help me accelerate my own journey and avoid unnecessary pitfalls. Which leads to the next point:
  2. Capability: learning happens in rows but growth happens in circles. In our leadership programs we have a saying “leadership isn’t learned in a binder… we learn by doing.” One of the most valuable components of being a part of a peer network is that we can expand our capability by learning from others who share the same focus but bring different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences to the conversation. There is huge value in having your point of view challenged and hearing people share a completely different approach to solving a problem that you’ve been wrestling with. So much of the best learning at ISA happens in the breakout rooms where individuals share what’s learning and what’s not, around key parts of their business. From tactical actions to innovative strategies, the openness and willingness to share is what will always take a peer exchange from good to great.
  3. Content: there’s always something new to learn. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been in this development space for close to thirty years now, and often I feel like there’s not much I haven’t seen particularly in the areas that talk to our specialties here at The Roundtable. Values? We’ve been talking about them for over 16 years! Peer coaching? We wrote a book on it! Trust? We have a proven system! I could go on. One of the members of the ISA is leadership trailblazer and author of The One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard. A few years ago, I watched as he listened intently in sessions, took notes and leaned into conversations… not to share his wisdom (which is vast) but to learn and then compare notes. That is truly the embodiment of lifelong learning. Since then, I’ve set my judgment on topics aside and leaned into the learning. It’s been incredibly powerful. Even on topics that I’m quite familiar with, like trust, I gained new insights. Here’s one: 9 out of 10 people say that trust is easier to build when working together in person. That got me thinking about the results we gain from in-person over virtual Roundtable programs and the challenges we, as leaders, need to consider as we navigate remote and hybrid work.

Peer communities are incredibly powerful ways that we can up our personal game, short-cut our learning and expand our strategic networks. If you’re looking for ways to inject peer cohort learning into your leadership strategy, give us a call. We’d love to help.

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