Continuous Learners Make Better Leaders
It doesn’t matter what your title or role is; everyone has the opportunity to be a leader in some form or fashion. The important thing is to be the best kind of leader you can be regardless of the position you have. The best way to do this is through continuous learning.
Read, read, and read some more.
In fact, there is so much information it may seem overwhelming. It is not necessary to commit to reading an entire book, article or post. Look for titles that catch your eye and then start off by skimming them for information. Flag things that resonate with you so you can go back and read more.
Take recommendations from colleagues and friends. This gives you the opportunity to ask some questions before you take that recommendation. Think about those who have the skills you want and ask them what they read.
Don’t buy, borrow. Unless you are building your library borrow books and magazines instead of buying them. Look to those colleagues and friends who make recommendations, they may already have what you are looking for. Many companies have lending libraries or business books lying around unread. One thing to remember, return what you borrow.
Don’t just say or think it, write it down.
Some of the greatest thoughts, ideas, and even quotes come from everyday conversations but most of us quickly forget that thing we want to remember. Great wisdom comes from the conversations you have with other people so it is important to capture it.
This is true of your own thoughts as well. How many times have we all had that great idea or thought and said to ourselves, I need to remember that only to forget it? Some of the best things come from our own mind. Often it is through reflection or pondering that we can find solutions to problems or discover a new way perspective.
Carry a notebook with you, or use the note feature in your phone to capture those things. You may have to develop a new habit but it will be worth it in the end.
Have a mentor / be a mentor.
Most people think of formality and structure when it comes to mentorship, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Informal mentoring relationships can work just as well as formal ones. Sometimes these are even the best. Regardless of which style you choose; make sure that it is a good fit whether you are a mentor or are being mentored by someone. It is important to know what you want to get out of the relationship and interactions you have.
In mentoring, like all relationships, communication is key. It is essential that you are clear in what you expect no matter what side you are on. There are great resources and tools available to assist you as a mentor or a mentee.
It is a learning experience for both parties involved not just the person being mentored.
Don’t just network, make connections.
Networking is easier now than at any time in history. With the proliferation of social media, we can connect with people around the world. Unfortunately, most people look at networking as numbers instead of relationships. It is not about quantity, it’s about quality. There is something we can learn from every person we build a connection with.
When you come across someone you want to connect with or that wants to connect with you think about they why and what. Why make this connection, what is the value to both of you? Is there a mutual benefit and gain? What can you both learn from each other? Consider what the other person may get out of establishing a connection whether it is business or social.
Get to know the people you connect with, even if you never meet them in person. Do you have something in common, an interest or purpose? Don’t start off by asking for something unless it is going to benefit them in some way. Stay engaged, not just connected, share information and knowledge. Make a point of going through your network and reach out to people if for no other reason than to say hello. The most important seven words in building any connection are “what can I do for you?”
It is our continual learning that helps us to grow. All of these things can help us be a better person and leader no matter what our role or title. Leadership is about how we use our knowledge, what we share with others, and the example we can set. It is also realizing that we can learn from ourselves and others no matter what their role or title is.