Non-stop learning

This classic TED video with Sir Ken Robinson on the subject of “How schools kill creativity” is still as good and relevant and important as it was 8, 5 years ago when he made the actual talk. If you haven’t watched it yet, please do – it’s worth every minute of your time.

One of the key point that he makes, that is also relevant to being a leader in 2020 and beyond, is that we don’t know what the world will look like in a few years, so we need to teach children how to think for themselves not just memorise data that may become incorrect over time anyway.

What this tells us is that the speed of change along with the fact that we just don’t know everything anyway, requires us to keep a very open, curious mind. Every single day offers opportunities for learning, for challenging the status quo. Leaders need to keep learning and encouraging others to do the same. Many leaders are however challenged by this as they feel they are so busy anyway, that making time for learning is hard. Having said that, many leaders are also starting to realise that learning happens every day, naturally, when they stay open to receiving learning in daily situations and interactions.

Leadership is about learning, as it’s hard to lead if you don’t stay ahead, right?

So leadership is about learning – learning about

  • Self – what motivates me, how do I come across to others, what stresses me etc
  • Others – what makes them tick, what do they believe in, what worries them etc
  • The business – what’s our vision, what do we do well, what could we do better etc
  • Stakeholders – what do they need, what do we need from them, how can they support etc
  • Competitors – what are they doing, what can we learn from them, how can we stay a step ahead of them etc
  • Society and politics – what is changing in rules and regulation, what challenges faces the country/industry/society as a whole – and how does that affect us? etc

This is by no means a complete list. There is so much learning.

What do you think is the most important thing for leaders to learn?

Or what is most important for you specifically to learn right now?

Please share and get the discussion going

Author: Mandy and Elisabet

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3 Comments

  1. Elizabet, I wholeheartedly agree with all your points above & most specifically with the Society and Politics point, which will affect all of the other categories . It seems that so much is changing and happening at a fast pace and we are all affected by those changes, wherever they may be in the world. I believe the pace of change will increase even more, and that will require leaders to be flexible and to guide others through those changes.

    Leaders will need to be accepting of change, whether its change that they’ve initiated or has come from an external factor. They will need to embrace change and its challenges, for these exciting times ahead.

    I also think that employees want more from life and a work/life balance, which will also require flexibility from all sides to attract and retain their best people.
    As we maintain global presence, leaders will lead a diverse workforce. It seems that there is a reduction in expat contracts and that most positions are now being filled locally, which will also require leaders to be increasingly culturally aware.

    Being open to learning is crucial to the way forward in order for leaders to keep up to date with whats happening in the world and the needs of their people & their stakeholders.

    That requires Leaders who are self aware & who are prepared to give their people time for Personal Development too.

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    • Great observations, Carolyn, thanks for sharing! I agree wholeheartedly. Worryingly I just read a poll on a site that asked people if they would rather train and learn a new skill or have a pay rise – and only 20% said they would prefer to learn a new skill! (It’s hard to get a pay rise unless I have more to offer anyway…And I should increase my chances to be able to deliver more value over time if I have more skills)
      How do we make learning something exciting and appealing? And how to do make more people see that we need to invest up front to reap the rewards later? (remembering the “marshmallow test” where children who were able to wait for their marshmallow got more)
      This is a questions that I am constantly pondering and experimenting with when it comes to solutions.
      What are your thoughts?
      And this question goes to anyone who reads this

      Post a Reply
      • Mmm this is an interesting dilemma.
        When I started facilitating training with adults I quickly realised that many of them were reluctant to begin with, as their memories of school were not great and that had affected their will to learn. I quickly realised that I needed to help them change their beliefs around learning and the learning experience.
        They had chosen to be there, so I at least knew that they were interested in the subjects, although that can also be a block if people feel pressurised to attend.
        I found that if we make learning fun, inclusive and a sharing of experiences and learning from each other, it can be rewarding for everyone.
        There was also an option at the end once all 3 modules had been completed, to take an exam as the modules were accredited, so those who were motivated by achievement would get credits and recognition.
        I really think its about making learning fun and letting the person choose the skill they want to learn and giving them the time and space to do it. Then include them in the learning process and how they apply what they’ve learnt to their daily lives as well as the workplace.

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