What did you learn today?
This question may sound familiar if you are a parent of a school-age child, but it is just as important for developing leaders to ask themselves the same question as they navigate their leadership path. If the answer is “nothing,” what can you do to turn that around?
After you’ve climbed your way to the top of the corporate ladder or reached a certain level in your career, it’s easy to sit back and put yourself on autopilot. However, settling for the status quo and never taking risks or learning new skills can stall a career.
It’s often been said that successful people never stop learning. In today’s fast-paced business world, executives need to continually sharpen their leadership skills and adapt to the ever-changing dynamics of the workplace in order to remain competitive. This doesn’t mean taking one leadership class and then going back to the old same routine. Business executives have to translate their knowledge into action and continue on this journey throughout their entire career.
Leadership development is an iterative process. It starts with practical applications that translate into learning new skills and gaining experience by applying those skills. The next steps are evaluating and recognizing the impact of your actions and what you have learned. Then, you repeat the process. This approach helps build leaders who are always in action and always thinking about their next learning opportunity.
Lifelong learning is commonly described as the “ongoing, voluntary and self-motivated” pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. The opportunities to learn new professional skills or new approaches to business challenges are endless. And, as you learn, you can expand your thought processes and communicate more clearly.
The good news is that learning is all around us. Here are five resources that can help executives achieve the benefits of lifelong learning:
- Business Books: There are books available on every business topic you can imagine, from leading successful teams to managing conflict in the workplace. The New York Times publishes a weekly list of the best-selling business books.
- Corporate Training: Professional development programs and courses can help executives and their employees hone specific leadership skills that will result in increased business success and profitability.
- Online Business Tools: New applications and software can be used to improve the efficiency of any business task. Executives should not be afraid to learn how to use these tools and integrate them into their daily routine.
- Mentoring: Sharing your knowledge with young professionals can be rewarding, and many times, the learning from a mentorship experience is a two-way street.
- Trade Shows and Conferences: There are numerous trade shows and conferences around the world for every type of business and every industry. These events are great opportunities to learn best practices and use cases from experts in the field.
Effective leaders must remain committed to learning and adapting. Embarking on a leadership development journey ensures that executives master the skills they need to manage effective and productive teams. This type of continuing education also helps stimulate the broader economy through the development of stronger, more ethical leaders around the world who are better equipped to make an impact.
When it comes to leadership development, there is no magic bullet. You have to be the pilot of your own learning journey and embrace it so that you can reap the rewards.
As Albert Einstein once said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Help your developing leaders find their passion for learning, and set them on a course for continued growth and development.
Tammy Rivera Berberick is the president and CEO of Crestcom International, the leading organization in results-based interactive leadership development. She holds a master of business administration and has held numerous executive-level positions leading transformational change within organizations.