Lifelong leadership learning

Lead Change is a leadership media destination with a unique editorial focus on driving change within organizations, teams, and individuals. Lead Change, a division of Weaving Influence, publishes twice monthly with SmartBrief. Today's post is by Wally Bock.

 

To be a great leader, you must keep learning. Lifelong learning isn’t new. Leaders have always been learners. It doesn't matter if you’re a freshly minted leader or a grizzled leadership veteran, you need to keep getting better every day. Getting better starts with the habit of reflection.

Make reflection the core of your leadership learning

It’s easy to get caught up in the swirl of activities and emails and meetings and challenges. But if that’s all you do, your leadership learning is accidental, and you’re letting life happen to you. To get control and grow, you must step back and reflect.

Take a few minutes every day to reflect on what you’re doing, what you want to do, and why. Do it the Ben Franklin way. Every morning, he decided what good he wanted to do that day. Every evening, he reflected on what he had done.

Use your journal to capture your thoughts and help you decide what to do differently. Writing out your thoughts and plans will force you to sharpen your thinking. Your journal will help you get the most value from the three kinds of leadership learning.

Leadership learning in 3 ways

If you want to become the best leader you can be, you need to learn leadership in three ways. You learn from the things you do and that happen to you during the day. You also learn when your curiosity leads you to new discoveries. And finally, some of your learning should be an intentional effort to learn specific skills.

Much learning will be life-driven. Every day, you’ll get things wrong you want to improve. You’ll do good things you hadn’t planned. Capture all that experience.

If you don’t capture the experience, you lose it. So as soon as you can, make simple notes about your experience. You can use index cards, a pocket notebook, a digital recorder, or your phone. Just capture the essence. When you open your journal in the evening, review what happened to you during the day, the lessons it taught, and the questions it raised.

Indulge your natural curiosity. Read something you don’t usually read. Poke around on the web and follow the chain of your ideas. Do something new. Your magnificent brain will throw ideas and insights at you.

Structure some learning around development goals. Learn something to build on a strength, work on a weakness, or develop skills for what’s next. Seek learning resources that will help you become the leader you want to be. The best source for insights is other people. 

Finding learning resources

People connect thoughts and ideas in a way no database can. Identify people you know who might have ways to learn what you want to learn. Then contact them. They may help you themselves. More likely though, they’ll know somebody else who could do better, or they’ll know a book or other resource they think will help.

Amazon is what most people think of when you say “books.” Amazon is a great way to search for books, and those books may be great sources of information and leads to experts.

Identify the authors of helpful books. Search for them on the web. Contact them. Most experts love to talk about their specialty. They’ll give you great information and point you to other experts and resources.

Search the web for podcasts, webinars and formal courses. Those sources will also point you to experts who will point you to more resources. It’s a virtuous cycle.

Bottom line

Leadership learning is a lifelong endeavor for great leaders. Make reflection and journaling the core of your leadership learning. Learn from experience. Use curiosity to discover new things to learn. Conduct learning projects to develop specific skills. Remember that people are the best source of knowledge about what you want to learn. Now you’re ready. Get a little better every day.

 

Wally Bock is an award-winning leadership author and blogger. He recently published the e-book "Become a Better Boss One Tip at a Time." You can find more from Wally at his Three Star Leadership blog or on Twitter.

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