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4 Ways to Use Learning Journals for Leadership Development

4 Ways to Use Learning Journals for Leadership Development

Dan McCarthy | Great Leadership

August 20, 2010

I’ve had a couple recent requests from readers for information on learning journals:

“I’ve been intrigued by the idea of using journaling & reflective writing, but can’t find any resources for how to get that off the ground. I’m worried about pitching it to people who may feel like it’s simply a teenage “dear diary” and am wondering how to provide some structure and support for this kind of process without demanding people turn in their journals for review. Any help?”

“Would you be able to provide me and your readers with the ins and outs of journaling and how to use it as a learning tool? I am very interested in this piece, but not quite sure what goes into it. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!”

You may have kept a diary as a kid, or were forced to write them as a part of your summer camp experience. Then, perhaps you never used them again.

I guess you could say blogging is a modern electronic form of a journal. That’s one of the benefits I get from blogging – writing about leadership development sure has helped my development.

So why and how would you use a journal for leadership development?

First of all, the physical act of writing something down promotes learning. It probably has something to do with internalization and ownership (“I wrote it down so it must be true”) – or maybe there’s some weird physical neurological thing going on.

Journaling also helps promote reflection, and reflection is a critical component required in order to learn from experience. And of course, learning from experience is where most of our development as leaders comes from.

This is one of those practices where I just can’t point to a mountain of research – I just know it works. Besides, no one has ever resisted the idea or questioned it.

Oh, and there’s one more very practical reason (now we’re talking) for using journals for leadership development. There sure are a lot cheaper and easier to produce than thick three-inch training binders (which end up in trash cans or gathering dusts on shelves). You can buy a very nice one at any office supply store for under $20.00.

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