The Learning Age
Rick Warren said, “All leaders are learners. The moment you stop learning, you stop leading.” People have observed the correlation between learning and leadership for decades, but in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world, this truth must be embraced more than ever. Though there are timeless principles, how we express them changes constantly. Due to technology, many things that worked in our culture today, won’t work tomorrow. Gone are the days where the degree we earned twenty years ago is sufficient for the leadership we need now. As Howard Hendricks said, “If you want to continue leading, you must continue changing.”
Not only is there a greater need for learning, but it’s now easier than ever. Information that used to be limited to a classroom or a workplace, is now one Google search away. Furthermore, the learner can personalize their experience to what works best for them. Whether it’s through books, podcasts, blogs, or online classes, you can build your own “Learning Journey.” With knowledge now at everyone’s fingertips, the bar for leading has never been higher, but the barrier for learning has never been lower.
DON’T JUST LEARN, BE A LEARNER
For great leaders, learning is more than a good habit, rather it’s part of who they are. Learning is not “what they do,” but instead, it’s “who they are.” Learning isn’t a task, but a lens in which these leaders see the world. There isn’t an on/off switch for learners, but instead every experience is an opportunity for them to be curious. Regardless of where they are, what they are doing, or to whom they are talking, there is a level of joyful curiosity. While good leaders learn, great leaders are learners.
FIVE HELPFUL LEARNING PRACTICES
If you want to see a leader’s potential, look at their learning practices. The best leaders are not passive, but active in pursuing knowledge. They have a plan to gather information and apply it. Below are five learning practices of great leaders. Over the next few weeks, we will discuss each one in further detail.
- Plan your own Learning Journey: One of the greatest advantages of learning in today’s world is that you can learn in whatever way best fits you. You get to choose why, what, how, and when you want to learn. This personalization allows you to not just grow as a leader, but enjoy the journey.
- Embrace an “Always Learning” mentality: Your ability to learn will not be limited by opportunity, but by your attitude. The smartest leaders are not those who think they have learned all there is to know, but instead those that learn from experiences that others neglect.
- Read broadly, but apply specifically: Great leaders don’t just look for the voices similar to them, but listen to experts from a variety of different fields. They then use their discernment on how to best apply those principles to their leadership context.
- Move from passive to active learning: Leaders engage with content more than just reading and listening, but by writing, discussing, and applying what they learn. In doing so, these leaders retain over three times more.
- Create a “File It & Find It” system: Our mind has a use it or lose it quality to it. It doesn’t have the capacity to remember everything our leadership requires. That is why great leaders create a system that provides an archive of all they learn.
Check in next week as we start to unpack these principles. Meanwhile, which of these learning practices intrigues you the most? What additional learning practices have helped you as a leader? I would love to discuss it with you in the comments below! And if you know of someone who would like to join the discussion, share this via the social media buttons below.