Learn to Lead

September 27th, 2015 § 0 comments

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

—John F. Kennedy

What have you learned lately?

We’ve all heard that life long learning is the key to success. However, it can be easy to simply dismiss this as a trite saying. In reality, this adage has never been truer than it is today.

In the book The Coaching Manager, James Hunt and Joseph Weintraub point out that it used to be possible to spend the first 20 – 30 years of our life amassing all the knowledge we needed and then rely on what we acquired for the next 30 years of our career. That approach is no longer effective. I recently read an article that stated the only thing it takes to be the smartest person in the room is a smart phone. The author’s premise is that it is the ability to learn that is important today and we need to focus on developing learning workers not simply knowledge workers.

With the pace of change today, you must continue to evolve or your will be left behind. It’s not acceptable to rely on a strategy or approach that worked a year ago, let alone five years ago. If your not pushing yourself to consider and explore new approaches you will eventually find that your skills, and possibly your organization, have become obsolete.

Challenge yourself to stay curious. No matter how much you might think you have the answers, remain open to the ideas of others. Seek out the perspective of your team and ask them to suggest improvements. It’s also critical that you stay up on changes happening within your industry. Regularly read industry trade magazines and attend conferences where you can learn about what other organizations in your industry are doing.

Although it is important to learn from your staff and about your industry, it’s equally critical to learn from areas outside of your industry. Seek out key innovations from a range of industries and in the field of science. You never know when new technology or techniques in one industry might spark an idea for your industry and organization. Finally, continually study the practice of leadership. Challenge yourself to evaluate your leadership style and make any adjustments necessary.

The bottom line is that in order to be successful as a leader today you must keep learning. Upon earning a leadership position, if you adopt the attitude that you have arrived, it is only a matter of time before you realize that you are being passed up. On the other hand, if you stay curious and open to learning, you will have the flexibility necessary to adapt quickly and will likely discover ideas that can help you and your organization thrive in a chaotic business environment.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one step you can take this week to learn something new.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

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