Do you know the secret all great leaders share?
It‘s that there‘s an intrinsic value to lifelong learning, and by embracing it, you can develop and grow your leadership capabilities.
Simon Sinek, motivational speaker and author of the bestselling book Start With Why, says, “Leadership is a skill, a learnable, practicable skill, and the best leaders don‘t consider themselves experts— they consider themselves students…regardless of their status.“
For leaders, an innate sense of curiosity often drives them to learn more; to increase their knowledge and understanding, and help them perform better for their teams, as well as providing personal fulfilment.
The benefits of embracing lifelong learning are numerous – learning develops natural talents, increases curiosity, opens the mind to explore new ideas and encourages creativity.
Learning also helps you challenge your assumptions and brings new knowledge and clear understanding to the table.
All signs of great leadership.
But keeping your learning sustainable means understanding how to learn; how to find information, make sense of what you read and hear, and how to share your knowledge.
So, what are the best ways to embrace lifelong learning throughout your career? It’s a question I’m often asked in my leadership training courses.
In this article, I will offer some tips on lifelong learning that will help you develop your leadership expertise. The journey starts with an ability to see the fresh and new – and understanding that learning offers many possibilities.
Embrace a ‘Beginner‘s Mind‘
The first step in any learning process is to ensure your mindset is open to new concepts and ideas. That means accepting that you don‘t know everything and that there’s a world of exciting thoughts and approaches open to you.
Writing in Harvard Business Review, Roderick Gilkey and Clint Kilts define the term Beginners Mind, a phrase reportedly used by Buddhist monks, as “a willingness to step back from prior knowledge and existing conventions to start over and cultivate new options—a challenge that typically activates right-hemisphere cognitions.“
Seek Out Information
Learning can take many forms – from on the job classroom-based education to self-initiated online courses, work-related training to personal enrichment. Additionally, we all learn new things every day. In our general interactions with others, we absorb new ideas, thoughts and information; in other words, as a colleague of mine refers to it – every day is a school day!
Keeping up to date with information is crucial to becoming a better leader. But with an overwhelm of information out there, its also critical to be able to filter what is valuable to you, evaluate and adjust your sources to ensure you are getting useful information and building knowledge that will help you keep ahead of the curve.
Additionally, sharing and discussing your learning with others will help keep focus and shed light on any areas where there is room for knowledge growth.
Try Something New
Although it’s tempting to stay within the comfort zone of the familiar – by harnessing your curiosity to step out and be open to learning something completely new, you will challenge your concepts and keep your skillset sharp.
Also, if your preferred style of learning is to read – why not try an online short course? If you tend towards formal classroom learning, why not try chatting informally to others instead?
Reflect on Your Learning
It’s great to devote time to learning new skills, new ideas, new ways of working (and leading), but how do you remember everything you learn? And how do you personalise and use the information you uncover?
Reflection and critical analysis will help you contextualise your learning. Plus, it’s worth remembering that you can improve the way you retain information – and increase the timespan for that retention – by understanding and overcoming the forgetting curve, which leads me on to my next point.
Share and Gain Insight
Having vast knowledge is one thing, but sharing it with others makes it intrinsically more valuable. So, regularly exchange information with your team, peers and networks.
Be receptive to others‘ learning too – your team and peer group can provide inspirational resources, additional knowledge and creative ideas that could benefit you, also.
Working alongside others, cascading and sharing learning, will inspire your team to embrace knowledge acquisition and collaborative insights – the key to accelerating performance.
Finally, remember that those leaders who remain agile and receptive – promoting and creating a culture of learning – will place themselves and their teams ahead of others in a continually changing, networked and creative economy.
A recent Deloitte study found that learning was ‘the top-rated challenge among 2019‘s Global Human Capital Trends. People now rate the ‘opportunity to learn‘ as among their top reasons for taking a job, and business leaders know that changes in technology, longevity, work practices and business models have created a tremendous demand for continuous, lifelong development.‘
Are you, as a leader, embracing lifelong learning?
If you are looking to increase your learning, or to develop your team, we can help. Here at Zestfor, we offer programmes to help you to optimise your leadership skills and personal development and get the best out of your team.
If you would like to find out more, then send a quick email here.
Until next time,
Zestfor specialises in developing Training programmes and resources scientifically tailored for technical markets – including Pharmaceutical, IT, and Life Sciences.
Our blend of in-classroom, online, and virtual live-stream delivery methods will engage and assure even the most introverted team members from the first meeting – whether face-to-face or virtually. To have a brief chat, call us on 0845 548 0833. Alternatively, please email our team here.