There is a group of people who become leaders in their given industry or business sector, and they seem to become stuck or immobilized in their personal and professional growth. These types of leaders become increasingly irrelevant as time goes on, and they fail to embrace new ideas, changes, and research that is needed to stay on top of the market and ahead of the competition.
These types of leaders all have one thing in common. They are not lifelong learners. Instead, they are the individuals that look to their own knowledge and understanding to make decisions, even if that knowledge and understanding are no longer current or even relevant. As a general statement, these types of leaders are also resistant to change and insight from others in the organization, especially if those recommendations are not in line with the leader’s current understanding and perspective.
The other group of leaders is those who are lifelong or constant learners. These are the professionals that not only train their employees, but that set an example by constantly and continually engaging in their own personal and professional growth.
With this type of ongoing training and development, this group of leaders is poised to recognize the signs of change in their business and in the market and to have an understanding of best practices and options to help the business or organization to make these changes. They are leaders that encourage ideas and look to the thoughts of industry leaders, researchers, and trainers when making decisions.
Some of the characteristics of leaders who are passionate about learning are:
- Big thinkers – leaders who are continually learning see a way to create a big picture outlook for their business, and to communicate concepts to their leadership team. They then trust the team to manage the details, providing relevant information, support, and resources as needed or requested.
- Passionate about creativity – people who stay open to new ideas, options, and developments are more open to creative solutions. They are able to grasp concepts quickly and to see the natural progression of an idea that is novel and creative in their business model.
- Embrace new technologies – being a leader and a learner means being comfortable in not being the “expert” on everything. This includes engaging in ongoing training with the leadership team and the employees in the most effective use of new technologies. In this role, the leader as the learner is also a powerful role model for all employees to embrace a positive perspective on learning and being one of the team.
- Focused on meeting goals – learners tend to have personal and professional goals that focus on growth and development, as well as areas of passion and interest. Leaders that are engaged in learning are more successful at meeting these goals, even stretch goals in the specific area, as they are effective at finding and utilizing resources that are geared to build in success.
Promoting lifelong learning and personal development is a gift any leader can provide to the organization. It is also an element of succession planning and leadership team development that is a key factor in the ongoing success of any business or organization over time.