Look After You Leap — The Business Leader As Student
Traditional common sense demands that you look before you leap. This isn’t just an important rule, but an essential one — following it can mean the difference between life and death. But many forward-thinking entrepreneurs today are looking the other way and taking a directly opposite approach: Look back after leaping.
The phrase was used by social entrepreneur Nick Temple to describe the practice of learning by doing, a leadership development approach that believes in the value of constant and continuous learning while “on the job,” so to speak. It can apply to whatever your career position or status is: the owner of the business, an executive, manager or team leader, or a new employee just starting to find your way into the industry.
Learning by doing takes a different approach from the conventional path of learning first (i.e., going to school) and then applying what you have learned once you start working. In this framework, you are encouraged to basically see yourself as a student; you don’t have all the answers and therefore should be open and attentive to the experiences that will teach you the lessons you need to learn to solve the problems that you are currently facing.
This is the perspective recommended by leading business strategists today, such as Plan2Profit. According to them, they prefer to offer education instead of just solutions as this is the more effective method to help clients grow sales, achieve measurable ROI and optimize their sales for the long term.
Studies have also shown that companies that uphold a learning culture achieve a higher level of global competitiveness. When you see each day, experience or challenge as an opportunity for learning, you also remember to be open to perspectives that may seem different, foreign or even strange compared to yours. This makes you better prepared to connect and network with individuals and organizations from different cultures and beliefs.
The decision to uphold a learning culture is not simply about creating unity or striving for personal improvement. It can also be driven by very practical, measurable motivation to achieve business objectives. Several case studies have shown how companies that integrated “learning by doing” into their business processes recorded remarkable increases in sales, productivity, communication and logistic skills. The approach is also being used by leading brands today to ensure high quality standards for their products and services.
Of course, putting yourself into a position of a student is never easy, especially if you are already a leader in your business. It takes a bold spirit and a brave mindset to move down from your all-knowing image. But it is possible, as shown by the great thought leaders and business greats today. In a highly dynamic business environment, being in constant student mode is believed to be the best way to produce results and drive the changes you need to grow and to succeed.