Jun 02

Why CEOs Must Always Be Learning. My Top Tips To Grow Your Learning Right Now.

I am completing a great online learning programme to become a virtual master presenter, VMP, as part of my personal development for this year. It is not that I am lacking skill and experience in this area, but rather that I want to become even better and to elevate the experience my clients have when working with me.

I believe as leaders, we need to always to be learning something new so that we always have something to offer to our tribe. If we are going to take on the responsibility of growing more leaders around us, then we need to always have something that is new and insightful to share, to really be able to fulfil the responsibility of being able to mentor, model and coach, to show leadership and grow leadership.

The best leaders are the best students. They are always learning, and sharing what they learn, to help others grow.”

Simon Sinek

Too many times I hear from people in leadership roles that they simply do not have time for any learning. Now the problem with this is that in a world that is changing you too need to change, just to stay the same. For example, if you are producing a product and the supply chain is compromised, you need to figure out a new way to revitalise that supply chain, restore that supply chain, or find a new supply chain, in order to be able to deliver your product. To stay the same.

It is the same principle for you as a leader. What worked yesterday will not necessarily be relevant in the future. You need to keep learning and growing so you are equipped to continue leading.

I am not the only one who believes this. Within the next few years millennials will be the largest generation making up the workforce, yet almost 69% feel there is a lack of development and training of leaders at their company. And shockingly, they are apparently right, as more than 55% of those in senior management roles have not had any formal training.

Not surprisingly then, this 2022 research presented by teamstage5 found over 70% of employees do not trust their leaders’ capability to take their organisation to the next level.

This is a problem. Without trust in your leadership how do you create a united way forward and make progress?

Keeping our minds supple, keeping them growing and expanding allows us the opportunity to expand our thinking, our innovation, and our creation. Leaders need to be all of these things. You need to be an innovator. You need to be an explorer, an expander, and a creator, so that you can be proactive about creating the future that you want to be part of.

So my question to you is, how are you doing your learning this year? What is your plan for yourself? You may well have development plans set up for your people, but what about for yourself?

  • What are the areas of knowledge you want to grow?
  • Where are your blind spots?
  • What about any gaps in your own capability and competence?

It seems that it gets less clear, the more senior leaders become, about how they are going to continue their own development and growth. So here are a few simple ideas for you to consider.

Networking

Simply talking to new people, to expand your view of the world and to get exposure to their ideas and best practise.

Attending conferences

Small or large, where you get the twin effect of not only being exposed to new content or the same content in a different way with a different application, you also get the value of mixing with all of the other attendees at the conference. See the earlier point above for those benefits.

Online Learning

For no cost you can access a MOOC, Massive Open Online Course, or a LinkedIn learning programme for example. You can do as many of these as you want and is valuable to you.

Podcast

Find yourself a new podcast to open up your mind.

Read some books

Physical books are great. Some people prefer e-books, whichever is your choice.

Talk to the newbies

Have some good conversations with your own people, particularly the newer people in your organisation who have come in with the newer ideas and the fresher perspectives, so that they can challenge your thinking and get you to grow your own approaches and frames of reference.

Training & Programs

Of course, there are other kinds of training and programmes you can do, like the one that I am doing. It is completed over a number of weeks, and comprises in-class learning, learning with a learning buddy (mine is in the US… so different perspective to me) and implementation.

Extended learning and qualifications

Perhaps you go another step, which is into something longer term. So a more sustained learning experience. This may in turn lead to a qualification if this is of value, interest, and benefit to you.

Mastermind

Joining a mastermind group of people who operate at the same or similar level can be a great way to get more input and ideas, have your own ideas challenged and developed, and provide a terrific sounding board and encouragement.

The important thing is to have a focus on your own learning and development. Personally, I undertake a number of development activities each year to expand myself, expand my world view, expand my perspective, and add to my body of knowledge, so that I can bring that to my clients, to my team, to my colleagues, and we can all grow together. Typically, it is one large intensive or program and several smaller learning activities.

I recommend you make a plan for yourself. Reflect on where you are and where you want to be. Identify any gaps. Identify any areas of interest where you would like to expand your knowledge. Challenge yourself to do something that is outside your comfort zone or outside your thinking zone.

Consider where opportunities in your business, your role, or for your team or industry might be in the coming years. Is there something here that you need to grow your knowledge of?

I had a conversation earlier this week with an executive who is leading a major digital transformation through her organisation. And she said one of the key challenges is she is not an expert in digital transformation. And so she is learning so much every day from some of the newest people in her organisation because they have the knowledge she needs. I love her approach of deliberately spending time with these people so she can learn and develop her own knowledge in the space, while also confirming these people have the depth of knowledge she can trust in and leverage during the program implementation to create a very successful programme.

I believe leaders will need to do more of this. You cannot be the expert in everything. Information is growing exponentially so you will never learn it all. Leaders need to be able to identify who in your organisations has the knowledge or seek them out and bring them into your organisations, so that you can tap into this incredible body of knowledge and apply it to the bigger picture, the bigger vision that you have, with purpose and intention.

So it’s time for you to reflect on your own learning and your plans for yourself. Identify one clear step to continue to expand your own perspective, your own knowledge. Then, of course, you need to implement.

Let’s keep it simple. I’m going to coach you through the GROW model.

Take a moment to reflect on the following questions:

GOAL
What is your goal for learning?
REALITY
What is the current reality?
What is happening right now with your learning?

OPTIONS
What options do you have to move towards your goal?
WAY FORWARD
What will you do?
By when?

 

I want you to create a really practical implementation step that you can follow through. It might be as simple as doing some research or setting some time in your diary to begin or making a phone call or having a conversation. The first step gets you underway, and that is what I want for you, to ramp up your proactive learning.

I’d love to know your thoughts.

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