Why Continuous Learning Makes You a Better Leader
It is a leader’s responsibility to assist their team to achieve individual goals that, together, will achieve the overall goal they are all working towards. This means that, as a leader, you need to keep your finger on the pulse of all aspects of the field you operate in. You have to continuously add to your skillset as new ideas, products, or processes are introduced. You have to pay attention and look out for, or develop, innovative ways of doing things. This is true of leaders in any industry, organization, or environment.
In order to do this, you have to actively continue learning. This doesn’t only mean you have to learn new skills and improve your knowledge, it also means you need to ensure you are healthy and you exercise your brain in order to remain on top.
You will find that all great leaders carry a “love of learning” and advocate that it is key to the ongoing growth of an individual. Lifelong learning really is the only way to continuously improve oneself. This is particularly true in the 21st Century where technology’s rapid development and the increasing globalization demand continuous development.
Here are some of the reasons continuous learning makes you a better leader:
Upskilling makes it easy to adapt
In order to function effectively in this rapidly changing world we have to learn new things every single day both at home and at work. Whether it is how to use a new phone or app, a new piece of equipment or new ways of managing teams, learning is vital to everyone whether they’re leaders or not. As a leader, one needs to continuously upskill in order to be able to easily adapt to change and innovation without compromising the team you lead. Both formal and informal learning helps keep you on your toes and on top of your game.
Lifelong learning instills perseverance
Recently the terms “college ready”, “career ready”, and “life ready” have been used when looking at the path, purpose, and potential of an individual. Most interesting is the newest term of the three, “life ready”, which refers to social-emotional skills like perseverance and growth, and it has lifelong learning at its core. ‘Readiness’ guru, David Conley, states that lifelong learning is a “must” for all leaders.
Passion creates pathways
Spending time outside of your work environment doing something you are passionate about is important because it stimulates creativity. Pursuing a passion can also often reveal pathways to new career opportunities. Increasingly the younger working people are moving into careers they love by educating themselves to acquire the skills they need, so much so that Generation Y is often referred to as the DIY Generation because of the trend among them to do this.
Continuously improving your knowledge and skills will help ensure your employability by giving you an advantage over others who may have the same basic qualifications but not the extra skills you have acquired. Also, the days of staying in the same company and job for decades is long gone and today most people change their jobs between 10 and 15 times through their working life. Having additional skills will improve your chances of being hired for a position over others. Leaders, in particular, need to constantly gain new knowledge and upskill themselves to ensure that they remain employable as they age.
Improves social awareness
In order to be a good leader, you have to be able to empathize with team members. By increasing social awareness of those different from you helps you to build relationships and adjust your leadership style to get the most out of your team members.
Helps you live longer
Research has shown that lifelong learning keeps you healthier and helps you live longer. Having an active and stimulated mind will ensure you enjoy longevity in your career and your life.
Different types of lifelong learning
There is a myriad of ways in which you can improve your knowledge and skills throughout your life ranging from informal short courses to formal opportunities that are structured as a series of consecutive programs.
Self-directed learning is when students have control over the pace and path of their skills development.
Personal learning usually takes place outside the workplace and is mostly connected to a hobby or passion that’s hands-on. Even when the learning has nothing to do with your career it’s important for your personal development, which in turn also helps your professional development.
Professional learning is education that happens in the work environment and is the most common form of lifelong learning. This type of learning can include job training, the development of a specific skill, or professional development.
Indirect learning is when you learn something new or acquire a new skill without even knowing it or planning it. Examples of this are learning something new whilst in conversation with someone or being exposed to innovative ideas through travel experiences.
Formal learning is a set sequence of courses that follow a defined path in a formal educational environment like a college or university.
Informal learning is when knowledge or a skill is acquired through watching videos, reading books, trying something new or observing a friend or colleague teach you something new.
As you can see by these various types of learning along with phenomenal technological advancements, the opportunities for lifelong learning are endless.
Exercise your brain
Exercising your brain is a form of learning that people often forget about despite it being a seemingly obvious method of continuous learning. Your brain is a muscle and by exercising the different parts of your brain you will improve your memory, concentration, people skills, brain speed, navigation, and intelligence. Having your brain in top form is guaranteed to make you a better leader. Here are some ways in which you can exercise this important muscle.
Doing jigsaw puzzles
It doesn’t matter if you do a 100 piece puzzle or a 1,000 piece puzzle, working on a jigsaw puzzle strengthens your brain by drawing on multiple cognitive abilities. Benefits include better visual-spatial reasoning, greater attention to detail, improving memory, increase IQ, improved problem solving ability, and one you may not realize — patience.
Research done on mentally stimulating activities found that playing cards improved thinking skills, communication, and memory. plus it’s just plain fun to play cards with friends.
Tasks relating to language involve many regions of the brain that play vital roles in processing information. Try writing down words you don’t know in a notebook along with their meaning. Then trying to use those words half a dozen times in the following 2 hours will not only improve your vocabulary, it will also exercise the various parts of the brain involved in visual and auditory processing.
Learning a new dance
According to Center for Disease Prevention and Control, learning a new dance has been proven to increase the processing speed of your brain and your memory. So, watch a YouTube video with fun dance moves or take a salsa class and exercise your body and your brain. Cha, Cha, Cha!
Play Brain Training games
There are several online brain training exercises that are really fun and will teach you something new, and exercise your brain, without you even realizing it. Try these 5 brain training exercises from the Leader Toolbelt.
There you have it, the reasons why lifelong learning is essential to being a good leader and the ways in which you can learn new things, add to your skill set, and exercise your brain. Trying just a few of these suggestions will have a noticeable effect on your confidence as a leader.