The Best Leaders are Continually Learning

Leadership Challenge bookThe book, The Leadership Challenge, is coming up on my reading list.  Author James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner share the following in the first chapter of the workbook.

“The best leaders are continually learning.  They see all experiences as learning opportunities.  But there’s one condition.  Rich insights only come from reflections and analysis.  Unexamined experiences yield no lessons.  If you want to become a better leader, you need to study your own performance and become more conscious about the choices that you are making and how you are acting on your intentions.”

So how does the process of “reflections and analysis” happen?  Let me offer some suggestions as to how to put these thoughts into practice.

Conferences/Seminars:  After a conference/seminar has concluded, take time a few days later to review the notes you took.  Be sure to clarify notes that were written in haste so you understand your own impressions.  Look for action steps you can take based upon your notes.  Create an action journal where you can record the intentions you plan to act upon.  Set a goal, deadline, and follow through.

Books:  As you read, mark sections that “speak” to you.  Get in the habit of writing down notes in the margins.  When you have completed your reading, go back over your highlights.  In your action journal, record ideas that have come to mind that you can take action on.  As with the conferences/seminars, set goals, deadlines, and follow through.  Take this a step further and share with someone else what you have learned.

Forums:  First Fridays is a leadership networking forum where we hear from local leaders and are challenged through a wide variety of topics.  Take notes.  Review your notes.  Record something in your action journal that you can apply to your work life, personal life, and community life.  Keep the learning going from a forum by applying it.

I believe a key to taking action is to take action soon.  Don’t think “I’ll review my notes in a month or so”…it will never happen.

It is very important for leaders to learn, but without application, it was just time spent.  To turn that time spent into an investment, take action on what you have learned.

  • Record your learning and set action plans in an action journal.
  • Share your learning with a colleague.
  • Teach others what you have learned.
  • Seek out leadership blogs and participate in an online conversation.
  • Follow a leadership author on LinkedIn and find even more content to learn from.  Share appropriate content with others.

Kennedy on leadership and learning

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