In today’s complex, high-speed world, people must be great learners in order to be great leaders. A great leader sees her job as learning about all the new things that hit her and the organization every day. Learning and leading are completely intertwined.
Being a great learner can:
Provides the confidence to be open to new ideas and a willingness to take risks
Means taking the time to think enough to work smart instead of just working hard
Means modeling for others the importance of listening and reacting quickly to new information, even while making short-term goals
Many forces are against leaders being great learners:
1. Most education is passive. Leaders aren’t taught how to learn.
2. Most corporate pressures to make numbers don’t allow time for being a learner.
Few tips on how to be a Great Learner and Leader:
Be responsible for your own learning. Take some time to think about your role as a learner in your role as a leader. Be a conscious model of great learning and display the roles of being great learners.
Schedule daily time for formal reflection, even if it’s only five minutes. Just five minutes devoted to reflection every day can dramatically improve performance.
Record one thing you learned each week. The process of writing requires more review and reflection. It helps to anchor the new knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors in the brain.
Schedule one activity that will promote your learning. It does not need to be big; even reading an article or visiting a web forum about your business can inspire learning and reflection.
Regularly ask yourself, your team, and your peers what you learned from the week’s work—not just what you did, but what you learned.
It will be a challenge to focus on your learning, and to get others to focus on learning. People are so busy focusing on doing that the idea of reflecting on learning is new, but incredibly powerful and handy within becoming great learners and leaders for those around you.
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William Seidman is the CEO of Cerebyte, Inc., a company focusing on creating high performing organizational cultures. He has worked as a manager or consultant with many large and small organizations including Hewlett-Packard, Jack in the Box, Intel, Tektronix, CVS Pharmacies, and Sears. As a recognized thought leader and expert on leadership in high-performing organizations, he contributes an in-depth understanding of the processes required to discover and use expert wisdom to create extraordinary organizational performance.
Dr. Seidman earned his doctorate at Stanford University. He is co-founder and chief executive officer of Cerebyte, Inc., co-author of Strategy to Action in Ten Days and co-author (with Rick Grbavac) of The Star Factor, published by AMACOM in the Fall of 2013. The Star Factor presents Affirmative Leadership, a methodology for discovering what your top performers do differently - and inspiring a new level of greatness in all.
Dr. Seidman lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon with his wife. He enjoys traveling, golf and spending time with his three kids.