Insight #26

Leaders Never Stop Learning


Becoming a leader is a lifelong journey, because you never “know” everything there is to know about leadership.  One key to being a great leader is the ability to continue learning throughout your entire lifetime and to realize that your learning never really stops.  In order to keep growing and getting better, a leader must invest in learning by seeking greater knowledge and a higher level of mastery.  Your credibility and reputation are based upon how deeply knowledgeable you are about your chosen field.  Many people have said that it takes 21 days to form a new habit – lifelong learning is definitely a habit that all leaders should form early in life.

Learning something new every day is not just a nice saying, it’s a way of life – it’s a mindset.  As a leader, if you adopt this way of thinking, it will open up new worlds of knowledge and insight to you.  Being a leader requires you to stay current, to be informed, to ask questions, to be conversant, and to make connections.  As the leader, your job is to think thoughts that have never been thought before and to be the person who is always asking, “What’s next?”  What boundaries have you pushed today?  What have you done today that you have never done before? 

The amount of information available to today’s leaders is astounding.  In my experience, the insights I’ve gained as a result of delving into new fields of study is amazing. What have you learned today that will make you a better leader tomorrow?  There is always a new skill to learn; a new goal or objective to strive for; or a new technology to understand and to apply to your daily leadership challenges.  Learning can be done in many different ways, the key is for you to identify how you learn best and to constantly seek out those types of learning opportunities.

Lifelong learning is not about how many facts, books, statistics, numbers, etc., you can accumulate - it is more so geared towards gaining knowledge and using that knowledge to become a better leader.  The quantity of knowledge you accumulate does not really matter.  What really matters is: how is what you know going to help you become a more capable leader, how valuable is what you know, and finally, will what you know be valuable to other people?

Reading is the fastest and most accessible way to consistently learn and to increase your knowledge and understanding.  What newspapers and magazines do you read on a daily basis?  What was the last book that you read?  Reading just for the sake of reading is fun, but you should also find ways to turn your reading time into value added, personal development time as well.  You can do this by ensuring that whatever you read contributes to making you a better leader and person.  You should learn with an attitude by approaching every learning situation with the expectation that what you learn is going pay you back some day.  

It takes many years of experience and focused practice to reach a level of recognized mastery and a leader’s journey toward mastery is never complete.  Mastery comes from being immersed in a subject for years and experiencing the subject as a participant and not just as a thinker/observer or bystander. To be a master, you must actively seek knowledge and proactively use it to the benefit of your followers and your organization.  Watching a master perform is exhilarating and beautiful to see because you get a chance to see that mastery is, in fact, a state of mind and only the best ever reach this level.  Becoming a master requires a focused approach to becoming the absolute best at something and masters become masters because they never let a day go by without learning something new.



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