As a leader, it is easy to become complacent in the position. However, in today’s rapidly changing workplaces, the knowledge that you have today will not equip you to be a leader in the future. As processes and organizations change, leaders who will continue to be effective focus on lifelong learning.
Lifelong learning is not just relegated to learning new business information, staying abreast of the latest in technology, or adjusting to evolving global markets. It is about continuing to become better and more effective on both a professional and a personal level.
Some of the important reasons for any leader or aspiring leader to focus on lifelong learning include:
- Life readiness – the world is constantly changing, and the pace of this change continues to increase. By choosing to be lifelong learners, individuals are involved in using new technology, enhancing their understanding of the world around them, and embracing changes that allow them to match pace effectively.
- Having a purpose – interest in a subject area, skill development, or improving connection and interaction creates a sense of purpose. Leaders with a purpose are more likely to set goals, meet and exceed expectations, and have a true sense of internal alignment with their values.
- Career flexibility – even though leaders may choose to stay in one organization, lifelong learning allows them to move between jobs or advance. It prevents leaders from becoming stagnant or stuck in their current way of doing things while also providing the option to consider new possibilities.
- Creativity and problem-solving abilities – knowledge and understanding of interpersonal communication, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, self-awareness, and leadership skills development all boost levels of creativity and problem solving. Being a lifelong learner fosters personal growth and development that is effective for relationships in and out of the workplace.
- Developing a holistic world perspective – the more leaders understand the value of inclusion, diversity, social awareness, and cultural differences, the more empathetic and supportive they can be of all people in the workplace. This, in turn, creates a healthier, more positive work environment for everyone.
- New perspectives – lifelong learning can also include mentoring and coaching. These services open up the possibility of challenging currently held beliefs that may no longer be accurate or effective. Through the support of a mentor or coach, leaders can explore their strengths and weaknesses and make changes that create sustainable improvements.
- Increased knowledge – formal education and professional development allow leaders to develop critical skills and knowledge to make them more effective. This can be specific certifications or degree programs, with the goal of increasing the knowledge needed to be effective.
Being a lifelong learner and transparent about the process is also essential to the company. As team members see a leader strive to continue to learn and grow, it instills a culture of lifelong learning throughout the organization.