Leadership and Learning

When I interview a candidate, I always ask what book they are reading or what current trends they know of in the marketplace. I also ask them to explain what they learned. The reason I ask those questions is to gain insight on their desire to better themselves. It is important that people joining our organization believe in learning, because our ability to increase our scale is through personal development.

Here are some ways to learn:

Reading – the most inexpensive way to gain knowledge. You can pace yourself and take your time to learn new things.   

Shared experience – through mentoring, your mentor can share their business knowledge and experience on how to do your job as well as understanding the lay of the land. This is what I called the borrowed experience. This method can help you accelerate your development, because you can avoid making the same mistake and move forward quickly when faced with a challenge, because you have the knowledge to deal with the situation.

Participating in volunteer projects – this is by far the most interesting way of enriching yourself. By working on a special project, you get to meet new people, learn new things and challenge yourself.

Experience – this is what I call the school of hard knocks. Do something, make mistakes, and learn the lessons. This method is rather costly, because you have to do things multiple times.   

Regardless of the learning preference of a leader, the common denominator is their desire to learn. All leaders believe in continuous learning; it energizes them and enables them to sustain their performance. As John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” For leaders to share something, they need to learn it to be able to share the knowledge. Leaders raise other leaders; that is why there is a multiplication effect when  leaders develop their people.      

As a leader, what is your learning preference? How do you enrich yourself? Remember the more you learn, the more you can help others.