Humans are social creatures. Research has concluded that strong social bonds contribute to a longer life. And most of us work in teams, for teams, and with teams. Yet when it comes to learning, we rarely do it together. We listen to podcasts, read books, attend seminars, and reflect mostly on our own.
This was something we paid a lot of attention to when founding The Junto Institute. We believed that if team members learned together, they and their organization would grow exponentially. That's why we required that teams participate in Junto's Apprenticeship Program together rather individuals participating alone. And we believe it's one of the reasons why so many of them have flourished.
Then last year, we piloted a Master Class for JuntoAlumni called "Leading with Emotional Intelligence." It's a highly intensive learning experience, consisting of 12 half-day monthly sessions, each of which is a deep dive into one of the emotional intelligence competencies.
For the Master Class, we didn't require teams to enroll; companies could choose one or multiple people. Out of seven students, three were with the same company (one of whom has since left) and the other four were from different companies.
As the sessions were unfolding, I obviously knew that they were learning this material alone, and believed that the content would be valuable. What I didn't anticipate was the gravity of that content and the impact it would have.
Here's a sample of the feedback we received just halfway through the Master Class (photo of written comments followed by a typed transcript). I share this not to promote the Master Class (after all, it's currently only available to Alumni) but rather to demonstrate the impact it was having.
"This has been a great experience to take it to the next level. I feel empowered and energized to use what we are learning and discussing in the Master Class with my team."
"eye-opening experience --> both personal & professional. All humans should be involved in this curriculum"
"This master class has been very important because I'm starting to learn more about my brain & the way it works in regards to my emotions. It's helped me better understand the science behind why I am the way I am."
As a result, not only were the participants learning alone through the Master Class, these leaders were growing alone...and more so than I imagined they would. They were gaining awareness, wisdom, and skills that many of their peers don't have, and may not have.
Besides the challenge of how to scale this learning in their companies, we're now thinking about how participants can bring that learning to their teams while they're learning. As most of us educators know, one of the most effective ways to learn is to teach so, in some way, that will be a part of our solution. And it only extends the ability for everyone to grow together and not alone.