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

In Between First Fridays

So many of you have been sharing about how you’ve grown through First Fridays.  You’ve shared about the value you receive and the great people you are meeting.  Jere and I love hearing that – that is our goal for leaders here in NE Indiana.

But what happens in between First Fridays?  How can you continue the experience beyond the 1 hour meeting?

  • Read.  Many of our presenters mention a book.  Go out and pick that book up (i.e. Amazon, library, etc.) and read it.  Read, reflect, and learn.
  • Connect.  I see many of you meeting new people at First Fridays. I see you exchanging business cards.  Take it a step further.  Reach out to one of those new people you’ve met and invite them to coffee or lunch.  In advance, prepare some good questions you can ask them with the intent of making a more meaningful connection.
  • Invite.  Why not invite someone to the next First Fridays?  I’ve heard from some of you that you are actively doing that.  I just spoke with my realtor yesterday and invited her. Spread the word about how leaders are growing at First Fridays.

I want to encourage you to not allow First Fridays to merely become an event.  Put into practice what you are learning.  Tell someone else about how you are growing as a leader.  Go to our YouTube channel (First Fridays Fort Wayne) and re-watch/listen to a presentation.  Share that presentation with someone.

As always, we appreciate your support and participation.  We are passionate about leadership.  You are making First Fridays a success story.  Thank you!

Dec 7 2018 Marlin Stutzman flyer

(Click on the image above to register for the December forum.)