“Just in Time” Leadership Development

November 17, 2009 - Mac Lake - Leadership Development

Do you remember those long boring hours in school studying subjects that you could care less about?  Your teacher would try to motivate you by saying, “You’re going to need this one day”  There was no motivation to learn the subject because it just didn’t feel relevant at the time.  This type of “Just in Case”  training is rarely very effective, especially for adult learners.   However, this tends to be the approach we emphasize the most in our leadership development efforts.

When I was in seminary I was sick and missed the day they taught how to do a funeral.  It didn’t really matter any way because it was “just in case” learning and I wouldn’t have paid a bit of attention.  But after I graduated it wasn’t long until someone in our church died and I was asked to perform the service.  All of the sudden I felt panic inside, I started going through my files, looking for books on performing funerals and calling pastor friends asking for advice.   I was looking for anything I could get my hands on to do the job well. 

This type of “Just in Time” learning is so effective because the learners emotions and teachability are at an all time high.   Plus they get to put what they are learning into practice right away!  Look for “just in time” learning opportunities for those you are mentoring.  If nothing obvious is on the horizen simply ask them a couple of the following questions and you will discover the “just in time” learning opportunities.

  • What are you most frustrated with in your role right now?
  • Where do you feel like you’re failing?
  • What challenges are you facing that you can’t figure out?
  • Is anyone on your team giving you problems that you aren’t sure how to handle?
  • What do you feel unprepared for right now?

What ” just in time” learning opportunities are presenting themselves for those you are developing?  Are you capitalizing on them?

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Mac Lake


My passion is multiplying multipliers

2 responses to “Just in Time” Leadership Development

  1. This post seems to go against the normal coaching model where you would have huddles with pre-determined content. To facilitate what you are saying here it would seem that a “call me if you need me” policy coupled with a library of resources would work best.

    Are you suggesting that you still have the normal huddles but allow time for this “free-form” interaction?

  2. Great question on the Just in Time post.
    Our coaches huddles are designed to cover a specific topic but raise the felt need so hopefully it leads to more of a just in time learning. For some the need may not be urgent so it would be just in case learning for them. I would suggest that some huddles be lead using a Just in Time model by asking the leaders, “What is your greatest challenge right now as a small group leader?” Allow them to build a list of 5-6 issues, then ask them to vote on the top issue. Then proceed by asking them a series of questions designed to help them learn from each other and from you the coach. It is non-planned but very effective approach…the learners become the teachers in this particular approach as they share their experiences and learn from each other.

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