The stages of long-term memory consist of Encoding – constructing memory, Retention- storing memory and Retrieval - accessing and using the memory.
When I relate this process to building leader capability, it feels like encoding is critical step in helping leaders build capability. Encoding requires selective attention to the material, elaboration that is associating with other information and visual imagery can be used to add richness to the material to be remembered
One of the learning strategies we have used to build capability in leaders has been the concept of creating a “crucible”. A crucible is, by definition, a transformative experience through which an individual comes to a new or an altered sense of identity. For example, I coached a woman executive who was sent on an assignment to a factory in Japan where she faced both estrangement and sexism. She had to face the daunting prospect of carving out a place for herself as the only woman engineer in a plant, in a nation, where women usually serve as low-level assistants. It was a tough situation for her and she was to “sink or swim” with a belief that if she was successful she would be on on high potential list.
To relate the work on crucibles to my insights on memory, I advised that she document her learning with stories, anecdotes, pictures and critical business experiences and stand up and teach an audience of aspiring leaders. This would help her help her organisation build a process of learning and retaining knowledge and skills in a systematic way.
Kalpana Sinha is a Leadership and Organisation Professional. Her blog has reflections from her work experiences of over 20 years.