Good leaders continuously update their skills and keep learning, as they need to plan the work of others, lead projects and manage the people who are doing the job. Leaders should be in touch with their industry and know what the work of others entails, otherwise it would be impossible to effectively lead people without any understanding of what they do on a daily basis.
Life-long learning in a leadership position can be challenging as it is not just about learning and applying technical skills, but more often focused on soft skills, management tools and techniques. Great leaders appreciate getting feedback from others, as it allows them to continue to learn and grow. Just like they want their teams and organization to improve, they also want to improve themselves. The learning path certainly requires keeping an open mind, listening, and exploring. It is also important to them to share what they have learned. While it’s important to have followers, it’s crucial to motivate and eventually develop other leaders, and by doing so, model the importance of continuing to learn and grow. Even if they are successful and accomplished in their careers, they are always asking the question ‘what is next?’ to grow themselves, their organizations, and their people. Continuous learning in a leadership position also means greater adaptability to an ever changing external environment. In a highly competitive industry, failing to learn and progress means that employees may become less motivated when it becomes clear that their leadership and organization are lacking behind the competition.
How to keep learning and progress as a leader?
#1 Business leadership courses
To begin your journey in leadership, there is a variety of business leadership courses to choose from. Whether you are expecting to be promoted into a leadership role, or getting a leadership role is one of your future goals, these courses can give you a good understanding of what leadership involves and does it differ from management. On top of managerial skills, a good leadership course also gives you the tools and mindset to develop your leadership potential by identifying your personal and organizational strengths and weaknesses, and how to set focus on your goals. Flexible online courses will allow you to study and develop your leadership and personal skills, and can be easily fitted into your existing schedule.
#2 Books and journals
If you are already in an established leadership role, books, journals, and papers can be great sources of information and inspiration. There are vast resources online in the form of blogs, industry journals, and professional social media networks such as LinkedIn. Each year, magazine Forbes also publishes a list of top recommended books to read for executives and leaders. The Blinkist app is a very helpful service for individuals who are too busy to read. The service summarizes content and highlights key points from books of your interest, and their library contains vast resources on management and leadership.
#3 Attending industry conferences and events
External industry events are priceless when it comes to keeping in touch and understanding the industry trends. Industry challenges are discussed among the attendees, and it is a great opportunity to learn how others are trying to overcome issues. The latest technologies, techniques and industry trends are also discussed and revealed at conferences, which can be very valuable for you as a leader when trying to shape the future of your organization.
#4 Expand and maintain your network
As already mentioned, leaders often have to develop soft skills that will help them to progress and be successful. Expanding and maintaining a personal and professional network requires a lot of effort, but can be very rewarding. Organizing coffee meetings and business lunches with former colleagues, friends and business acquaintances will help you to stay connected with people outside of your work environment. This will help you to get another perspective, learn from others and help you to think outside of the box.
#5 Learn from a consultant
It is likely that at some point your organization is going to hire an external consulting firm to provide their expertise and work on certain projects. This is a great opportunity for leaders to improve their skill and gain expertise. Consultants work with many organizations, and on a variety of different projects, and they can bring valuable insights and their expertise that you can observe and learn from.