You are not leading unless you are learning. Leadership and learning are, in the words of JFK, “indispensable to each other.” And if you take learning to the next level by sharing with others, you are accomplishing what I believe is one of the true hallmarks of leadership.
Leading is learning and learning and sharing is leading.
Never. Stop. Learning. No matter what you do in life, live by the motto “Learn something new every day!” I have told that to my children, my nieces and nephews, new employees that I have mentored, colleagues on really good days, colleagues going through a rut, and now I am sharing this with you. But if you are reading this, you likely subscribe to this mantra. Learning is the key that opens up every possibility that we might create and turn into reality. It will also help select the best opportunity that is born out of these possibilities.
But, reader beware…
We all have so much information at our fingertips that many of us believe that we are ‘learning’ everyday…all day long…non-stop. But this information overload may have us all fooled into thinking that we are learning every time we pick up our ‘smart’ phone. Learning takes focus. We are hardly focused each time we reflexively grab our phone every 6.3 minutes. Now, I am not saying that you can’t be focused while reading some great stuff on your smartphone. You are likely reading this from your smart phone right now (and hopefully you think it’s great). Here are 3 ways, however, that we can slow down and focus as we are learning…and leading:
Timing is everything: do not be tempted to bury your head in your phone at a meeting that you are not interested in. You are doing a disservice to your colleagues and unless you are firing off a vital email that you forgot to hit send on, you are not accomplishing much. Your distracted and are likely distracting others. Setup some time during your day to focus on learning. If you think that you do not have time for this, most of us can’t afford not to dedicate some time to learn.
Content is king: pare down some of the scores of resources that you turn to for learning. Create a list on Twitter of your followers that provide the right information
Focus: don’t just skim. This is very tempting, and sometimes it is all that is possible. However, begin to try to drill down. Think of some of these great articles and information as just the tip of the iceberg. Dig deeper. Some of us do this naturally to quench the thirst for knowledge without even thinking. To others, let this be your catalyst to sparking the fervor for learning.
Another facet of learning is that one should never stop asking questions. Questions offer the path to greatness and those with a large ego often believe questions make you look less intelligent than you are. Contemplating and having the courage to ask the ‘right’ questions with the right direction are an invaluable tool to great things.
Thank you for reading and thank you for sharing. Have a great day and do great things!
Leaders that are looking to shine through their own hard work, perseverance and positive attitude are never looking for the spotlight. Those that are looking to get credit (or worse “take credit”) are those that waste their time doing this rather than getting their hands dirty doing any work. I remember a terrible example of someone trying to steal credit in my professional life. Our organization had just had a new management team come in and the leadership team was going around the room explaining roles, responsibilities and some quick accomplishments of programs in each of their divisions. As we went around the room, another department head who had been overtly insecure in her new job role proceeded to take credit for a program that I had been intricate in developing. I had helped to lead a team of professionals who had been dedicated and focused on one thing – getting the work done. That’s all, simply just getting the work at hand done and done well.
So you want to be a more effective leader? Want to stop and think about how your leadership ability is shaping up? Here is a quick list that serves as a reminder to qualities you need to sharpen to help you stay on track. Self awareness is not included on this list, but if you were interested enough to read this, you are probably doing okay with this one.
1. Integrity – THIS IS A BIG ONE!! And it also requires that you have many other positive qualities to be able to demonstrate this one. Doing the right thing when it counts most and when it may not even be noticed. You do what is right for others, not with yourself in mind. You have the moral compass built in to your dashboard. You should never have to search for it, its always helping you navigate your way through LIFE.
2. Composed – You never panic. Others turn to you and see a quiet calm that is not only reassuring, but is quite contagious. Too often managers have only two modes – laissez faire and CODE RED!! Being composed does not mean you are indifferent to the world around you. It is that you remain level headed and have your mind in a state that allows you to make the best decisions when it counts most.
3. Responsive – not quite the same as one that only reacts to issues or problems. This is a trait that is seen in leaders that hear or see things that others do not. In your every day experiences, you challenge what you see and respond to a situation that others consider as being “just fine’. In other words, “status quo” is the root of all evil for the responsive leader.
4. Motivated – the great leader knows the hardest part of any project is getting started. Great leaders take the initiative to get things started and get things done! Their work also inspires others to get their hands dirty and get things done!
5. Humble – it’s just as important to know what you don’t know. Many managers are running around the office letting everyone know what their expertise is. I admire those that are running around learning from the expertise and experience of others.