Action Learning Set Roles

There are three action learning set roles that are fundamental to running a successful action learning session.


This could be an experienced facilitator who is there to guide the set members in the first few sessions of the group or they may be a set member. The role of the facilitator is to ensure they help draw up the initial ground rules for working together,

principles of action learning , process and keep to time. The facilitator also plays a role in helping the set develop the skills of questioning , listening , reflecting and giving and receiving feedback). Ultimately if the facilitator an external facilitator their role is to help the group become self-facilitating and in doing so develops the facilitation skills of set members.

Usually the facilitator is the only one of the action learning set roles that doesn't take an active role in helping the issue holder work on their issue, instead the facilitator focuses on managing the group processes.

Issue holder or presenter:

For each action learning session one person presents and works on their issue at a time – this person is referred to as the presenter or issue holder. Each session will typically last around 30 – 40 minutes after which time another person is nominated by the group to present and work on their issue.

During the set the issue holder will first present their issue explaining what outcome they want from the session. They will then reflect upon the questions the set members ask them, formulate options and decide upon a course of action. Since each member is accountable to the group for actions agreed when the set meets again they will then update them on the progress they have made.

Set members:

Those people not taking the role of facilitator or presenting their issue at a particular time are referred to as set members. The set members each play the role of ‘coach’ during the session firstly listening carefully to the presenters issue, clarifying they understand it and then asking open and insightful questions to help the issue holder to clarify and work though their issue, finally helping them to identify specific action.

Further Reading:

The Action Learning Handbook: Powerful Techniques for Education, Professional Development and Training by Anne Brockbank and Ian McGill (Paperback - 6 Nov 2003)

Action Learning: A Practical Guide for Managers by Krystyna Weinstein (Paperback - 16 Nov 1998)

See Also:-

Action Learning and Group Coaching
What Is Action Learning
Action Learning Model
Action Learning Principles
Action Learning Ground Rules
Action Learning Set Roles
Action Learning Skills
Role Of Action Learning Facilitator
The Ideal Number Of Members In An Action Learning Set?
Lifetime Of An Action Learning Set
Business Mastermind Model

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