The T Approach to Learning: A Two-Faceted Leadership Development Strategy

How does one influence, mobilize or convince partners, stakeholders or workers to adopt a certain viewpoint? What are the abilities required to achieve this influence?


Some of these abilities were discussed in my past articles, namely the sense of self-efficacy, a type of confidence that can be applied to different situations. It results from living many experiences, observing different models and the ability to convince oneself of one’s strengths, rather than of limits and weaknesses.


The stronger this sense of self-efficacy, the more the individual is motivated to persevere and to perform towards his/her goals. In today’s article, I would like to present another strategy employed by leaders to increase their leadership skills known as the T approach to learning.


The interviews conducted with accomplished leaders demonstrated that these use a learning method that is similar to the T learning approach and which permits them to continuously develop their ability to influence others and to better understand challenges and responsibilities. This learning approach consists of two fundamental features: an increase in the depth of knowledge and the widening of the scope of knowledge:


    1. The first feature is to master every detail that is related to one’s respective zone or domain of responsibility. This is the vertical part of the T, also known as the increase in the depth of knowledge.


    2. The second feature is the understanding of the perspectives directly and indirectly related to one’s immediate field or specialization. This is the horizontal part of the T, or the widening of the scope of knowledge.


The more an individual practices this approach, the easier it can be to understand the implications and solutions to a problem, the perspectives of others, to come up with creative solutions and subsequently, become better at influencing others.


Without this two-faceted approach to learning, the expert or specialist only has the ability to influence their respective field or specialization. The combination of both features is required to be able to better influence and inspire confidence in others.


In a business environment, this strategy can facilitate successes within the company because the CEO is able to master the main practices (i.e. pharmaceuticals, finances, personal services, etc.) and also all the aspects connected to the company, such as: administration, marketing, legal issues, macro-economics, the clientele and so on.


With this expanded knowledge, the CEO is prepared to ask the appropriate questions, guide collaborators and partners towards the objectives, make decisions with confidence, mobilize workers and follow-up on proceedings towards the enterprise’s objectives.


The T approach to learning is a strategy that can help to mobilize others and to fully understand problems, solutions and their implications. It also permits the progressive development of a sense of satisfaction in leadership. The implementation of the T approach to learning early in life can guide a businessman/woman to develop self-confidence and a power to influence others.


The T approach to learning permits the progressive development of a sense of satisfaction in leadership


An example of this is when accountants, engineers or HR consultants want to actualize their leadership potential and their ability to influence present and future decisions. Such individuals cannot solely concentrate on and execute the tasks expected of them, nor is it required for them to obsess about details or become experts in every field.


Specialists or experts can become influential outside of their domain by understanding and learning about the impact of their work and its relation with other fields. These influence the global aspects of the company such as the profitability, future trends of the market place or any other element related to the organization.


The leaders that adopt the T approach to learning early in their life will be better prepared to understand their responsibilities, learn more than what is expected of them and be more aware of the relation between different professional fields and the various elements of a problem.


The development of collective leadership.

It is possible to increase the leadership of a team or an entire organization the same way as at the individual level. The figureheads of the team or organization need to make sure that the greatest number of people become experts in their domain and that they are able to understand relations between fields and the bigger picture of problems and situations. The case of the French multinational Danone demonstrates this by its training and development program:




The implementation of the T approach to learning within teams and organizations can reinforce the collaboration among workers and create an enlarged understanding of risks and interdependencies.


The opposite of a collaborative work environment is when an organization reduces the amount of groups that are qualified to accomplish specific tasks, which can form clusters of expertise and create disengagement towards the common objective. In this case, every worker is satisfied by the accomplishment of their individual tasks and their potential of collaboration is limited.



Successful and aspiring leaders follow the T approach to learning which consists of two features: a thorough understanding of their direct field and responsibilities; and an enlarged understanding of aspects related to it. The early application of this learning method enables leaders to succeed in their projects and objectives.


This approach also develops the qualities required to become successful leaders and which include: self-confidence, the identification of shared and common goals and the mobilization of colleagues towards these goals.

Leave a Reply