Learning culture - create learning and development in your organization

A learning culture that creates better results and motivated employees

A learning culture is an organizational culture where wondering, reflecting, trying out different solutions and maintaining an ongoing curiosity about your own and others' work is a natural part of working together. In a strong learning culture, working with what works - why and how - is firmly integrated into values and daily practice.

The benefits of a learning culture are many[MR3]. Firstly, a well-functioning learning culture ensures that learning applies to everyone, not just to those who are talented, newcomers or inexperienced. Secondly, learning takes place in the "operations", i.e. in everyday tasks and work and in the collaboration between managers, employees and colleagues - and not only through training outside the organization, where it is often difficult to put the learned knowledge into practice. Thirdly, organizations with a strong learning culture are less vulnerable to key employees leaving the workplace (for example, when employees with decades of specialized knowledge and knowledge of the non-self-evident retire), because their knowledge sharing and sparring becomes an ongoing part of everyday collaboration.

In addition, a well-functioning learning culture contributes to a high level of psychological safety. It allows employees to feel comfortable with each other and not worry about hidden agendas because they know that their colleagues and managers are open and honest about what they think and believe. The result is fewer worries, better handling of disagreements and constructive discussions about what's best for the core business.


What does LEAD understand by a learning culture?

In LEAD's understanding, a learning culture consists of:

1. psychological safety

2. Mindset - an ideal for development and learning

3. Methods and structures

Psychological safety is a much-discussed concept from Professor Amy Edmondson. In more concrete terms, psychological safety means that employees and managers have a deep-rooted belief that everyone in the workplace has each other's best interests at heart. This means being open about mistakes and doubts, and being able to show the vulnerability of asking "dumb questions", expressing wonder and coming up with new ideas. In a learning culture of psychological safety, you can have healthy conflicts, discussions and constructive criticism in an effort to make yourself and each other better. Because you know that disagreements are driven by a genuine desire to learn and help each other learn.

A strong learning culture is built on psychological safety because a learning environment requires employees and managers to be open and honest. Psychologically safe collaboration is a place where employees understand that they can safely air their ideas, questions and concerns without being punished or losing face. In fact, they're expected to voice offbeat ideas, mistakes, doubts, questions and business-critical issues.

Mindset[MR7] refers to the perception that mistakes are important because they lead to learning. This is the diametric opposite of a zero-error culture. The ideal is not to be flawless and perfect. The ideal is that we can all develop and learn throughout our lives. In a highly complex and ever-changing world, it's important to trust the professional judgment of employees and managers. They must have the opportunity to try out new ideas and occasionally find themselves on the edge of their comfort zone, where they obviously won't perform perfectly and where they will make mistakes or struggle with their work without being punished or humiliated. And learning culture applies to everyone - across hierarchy and status, and leaders in particular need to lead the way and be role models.

That's not to say that they should constantly be outside their comfort zone. That's far too hard and demanding in the long run. But on the edge of the known is where creativity, development and learning take place.[MR8] It's on this edge that people's creative urges are satisfied.

Methods and structures are necessary to develop a learning culture where learning becomes an integral part of everyday life. It is the organization's structures - practices, actions, organization, etc. that build[MR9] the culture. So it's important to take a hard look at your practices. Do our meeting agendas invite reflection and learning? Do we have engaging dialogues with each other, or is it one-way communication and orientation? Do we have structured time for collegial sparring, sharing dilemmas, getting feedback, evaluating our projects, or do we forget about it in the rush and just ask the person next to us or talk to our manager behind closed doors? All of these touchpoints can potentially be learning goldmines.  

The combination of psychological safety, mindset and structures can create a deep-rooted learning culture - for the benefit of employees as well as managers, organizations as well as their customers.[MR10] The reason is that it creates a safe and meaningful environment for innovative development, personal well-being and high performance.

How can LEAD help create a learning culture?

As the word reveals, learning culture is about culture - and probably about changing it. It immediately brings to mind Peter Drucker's famous remark that "culture eats strategy for breakfast". The quote is so famous for a reason: it has a great deal of truth in it. Changes in behavior and actions are more dependent on culture than strategy. Sometimes culture supports the organization in achieving its strategic goals, other times culture gets in the way and culture is likely to win out.

When working with learning culture, LEAD can help with, among other things:

a) Inspiring keynotes on learning culture, psychological safety, growth mindset, feedback, etc.

b) Efforts to strengthen the leadership team's learning culture. This is based on the idea that if the learning culture lives in and spreads from the leadership team, it will more easily thrive in the rest of the organization.

c) Coaching, counseling and sparring for managers who want to create, lead and strengthen the learning culture.

d) Developing and implementing fixed development practices and mindsets in the organization. This includes feedback, supervision, learning conversations, development-focused meeting management and practices for personal and peer development.

e) Developing an organization-wide learning culture (transformation), where we create a learning culture through an in-depth and comprehensive implementation process.

f) Culture analytics - both quantitative and qualitative - that can help elevate the learning culture.


We teach you how to strengthen your learning culture

We offer you management and organizational sparring, research-based teaching and presentations on learning culture as well as training courses with a specific focus on giving you and your organization general management skills. Read examples of our services here.


Inspiring research-based presentations on learning culture for all levels of your organization


Sparring in the development of your learning culture, decisions and initiatives.


Facilitation of active workshops focusing on competence development at management and employee level.

Education and training

LEAD's training in the management of psychological work environment and well-being (which can also take place at your company).

LEAD's cultural development consultants

Bringing in an external consultant can be an excellent way to temporarily boost cultural development in your organization. An experienced and compliant workforce that doesn't have to spend time on outside activities will quickly help to create dynamism and growth - taking into account the starting point of the organization and employees, of course. A significant advantage of an external consultant is their independent perspective. By coming from the outside, you are not part of the internal changes and positioning that are constantly taking place in all organizations. You are an ambassador for the good solution and can focus on aspects that internal employees may find difficult to identify.

This position on the sidelines of the organization can be particularly beneficial for culture development, as the external consultant is given a unique mandate to move through the entire organizational structure without being limited by usual reference relationships. This provides an excellent basis for observing and influencing culture from the inside to the outside of the organization. At LEAD, we don't just focus on being project managers, but rather culture development leaders working across the organization. Culture development is about both the overall strategies and the small details - from ensuring thorough decision presentations to top management to making sure that someone has remembered to order croissants for the next kickoff meeting.

So, if your organization is looking to advance cultural development, you may want to consider using LEAD's onsite consultants. We are specialists who work with your existing team to deliver impactful and effective solutions. LEAD offers you highly qualified and experienced professionals who have successfully solved similar challenges. Our consultants and their competencies are skilled at working loyally with the organization's intentions, as well as involving and engaging colleagues in culture development processes.

The learning culture consulting team

Claus Elmholdt

Professional Director | Founder | Read more here

Mickey Klysner Riis

Management Consultant | Read more here

Katrine Bastian

Senior Consultant | Read more here

Kim Martin Nielsen

Partner | Read more here

Maja Nyboe Bjerrehuus

Senior Consultant | Read more here

Contact us to learn more about what we can do for your organization

Are you facing an organizational change? Do you need strategic advice or a cultural development program?

Contact us and together we will tailor a process that develops the exact competencies and structures that strengthen and future-proof your organization.

Claus Elmholdt

Professional Director, Founder
Cand.Psych.Aut. & Ph.d.
Associate Professor in Management and Organizational Psychology, Aalborg University

Cell phone: +45 26 14 51 57
Email: ce@lead.eu