The Best Leaders Keep Learning

Leaders can never stop learning. If they do, they will also stop leading. In order to lead, a person must take action -- and one of those actions is that they can never stop learning. Think about the building of any skill, no matter whether it is a technical, athletic, cultural, or recreational skill; the moment you stop improving your abilities to perform that skill is the moment you begin to lose your abilities to perform the skill the way you once did. Leadership is no different.

What are you doing to enhance your leadership skill? Are you continuing your education to become a better leader?

Continuing education comes in all forms, both formal and informal. You can enroll in formal education curriculum to become a better leader, or you can do a number of things on your own to enhance your leadership skill. While some people are natural leaders and others have to work harder at it, natural ability will only take you so far. If you are not constantly updating your knowledge and view in the art of leadership, then you will be left behind as a leader. Not only is technology advancing, but so is the rapid pace of generational development. Without staying current, the leadership skills you once had will become less effective as new people come into your organization.

Here are some ways to increase your leadership skills:

  • Enroll in a leadership class or a leadership forum.  When you attend, go with the intent of learning so you can teach what you learn to others. Leaders not only learn but they do so in order to share what they have discovered with others. If you keep this learning intent at the forefront of all your learning, you will learn much differently and much more effectively.
  • Read a book about a leader (historical, or a biography or autobiography) and ask yourself this question: What did this person do to differentiate himself or herself in leadership, and how did this person handle various situations?
  • Read a book on leadership and decide the three things you will apply to your work from the book.

Notice that in all three learning opportunities I have mentioned, it requires action on your part: teaching what you have learned, asking yourself driving questions while you are learning, and applying what you have learned to real life. All three of these should be applied, no matter how you decide to move your leadership education forward.

One thing is for certain, you can't become complacent with what you know today if you want to continue to become a more effective leader. Leadership is not an event, but it is a journey. Without constantly moving forward, you will never become one.

John F. Kennedy said "leadership and learning are indispensable to each other," and he could not have been more correct. One can't exist without the other. So if you aren't actively on a journey to become a better leader, then start today. You and those you are leading will benefit from it.

Jeff Dudley, president and founder of LeadeReliability, has worked in leadership positions in the manufacturing sector for more than 32 years. After retiring from The Dow Chemical Company, Dudley pursued his passion of learning and teaching by sharing his leadership concepts with businesses, organizations and individuals.

Posted by Jeff Dudley on Dec 06, 2013

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