Have you ever noticed that the difference between the words ‘leader’ and ‘learner’ are merely two letters? Perhaps it’s because the best leaders are ones who constantly seek to learn and encourage the same of others. We unpack why the learning leader is the best type in today’s modern business world.
Organisations know that good leaders never stop seeking development. According to IML ANZ’s latest research on employer and graduate expectations around leadership skills development, 72% of employers believe they need leadership skills development in their organisation.
In addition, the 2019 National Salary Survey found that one of the top human capital challenges for organisations is the need to develop effective leaders (44%). Interestingly, survey respondents (52%) also rated this as a crucial value-add to organisations if managed correctly.
Clearly, organisations will then seek leaders who share their view on the importance of leadership development. For the individual, that starts with their attitude towards the importance of learning.
Another benefit of having a leader who continually seeks to learn is that they will encourage those around them to do the same.
If you’d like to become a learning leader, here are some simple tips:
View learning as an unending process
Progress in technology, education and society mean that what we knew a few years ago may already be outdated. The time between when we acquire knowledge and their ‘use-by date’ is shrinking.
Leaders therefore, must look at every opportunity to learn and to update their expertise. When you’re the person in charge of organisational changes, the strategy, business growth and employee engagement, you cannot afford to get left behind.
Stop thinking that learning equals courses
As humans, we like to evaluate ourselves based on measurable, tangible and finite outcomes. Part of the appeal of attending a class is that participants normally come away with a piece of paper that tells them they’ve ‘learned’ about a particular topic, skill or capability.
Learning can come from a variety of contexts. Leaders can gain new knowledge from trialling a new process for instance. Shift the focus from the ‘outcome’ to the ‘journey’ and the lessons won’t be confined to just whether the process resulted in a win or loss.
Learn from your people
In the relentless cadence of managing and leading the business, it can be easy for leaders to focus only on their individual learnings. However, reflection is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that you are a learning leader.
Involve your people when reflecting on outcomes, processes and areas of improvement for the team and the business. Each person has a unique way of viewing things and no two people will ever come up with exactly the same idea – no matter how similar they think and behave. By taking in the perspectives of others, you’ll open yourself up to experiences and ideas that would have simply been impossible for you to learn about.