“We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” – Peter Drucker
Getting to the top of any business or organisation, whether that means climbing some kind of ladder and rising through the ranks, or whether that means building the whole thing yourself from the ground up, is a big journey. A journey that will have required a great deal of learning, listening, and finding solutions to problems.
However, once up there, in control and at the top, there can be a tendency to stop. What I mean by this is that it is easy to think that once all the hard work required to get to where you are has been done, learning, listening and solving is something you no longer have to do. However, just because one is at the top of their game, it does not mean the journey is over. Industries grow and evolve. The people that work for you have a power all of their own. And employees are led by example. If you want to keep up with what is going on in your world, and for the people that work for you to be encouraged to keep acquiring new knowledge and skills, be conscious that you, yourself, must never stop learning new things and looking at issues from different angles.
1. Walk the Walk
If you want to be in charge of an organisation that is always striving for new ideas, better solutions, and real-world relevance, then the best way to start is to show a personal appetite for knowledge and learning yourself. Organise workshops, lectures, outings and opportunities for your teams, and when those things come to pass, turn up and get involved. Not only does this say to your employees that you are prepared to learn as you expect them to do, but it also helps to keep you grounded and conscious of the direction your workforce is going on all levels.
2. Keeping Connected to the Industry
Every industry moves, grows, and changes. To ensure your company’s relevance and resilience, it will have to change its practices over time, and it will have to learn how to remain competitive in the world as it is at any one time. You, yourself, must learn in order to steer the ship in the right direction. If you don’t know where you are supposed to be going, then surely nobody else will!
3. Keeping Connected to Employees
Any conscious business owner knows that bringing in new, young blood, with relative abandon, fresh energy and likelihood to take bold risks is good for a company. These young people will bring real-world knowledge and may know plenty about the evolving nature of your industry in a way that you might not. While helping them to obtain experience, be sure to try and learn from them also. If they are worth employing then you will have employed them because they have an ability to add value. Connect with them. Learn from them. Cash in on that ‘value’ to help your own vision and relevance.
4. It Keeps You Listening
Having a learning habit helps you in ways beyond the mere accumulation of new information. To learn is to have listening skills, analytical skills, and the ability not to stay stuck in one place for too long. It helps you to be comfortable with uncomfortable changes. It keeps you open to new ideas and makes you better at risk-assessing the implementation of them. It might, that being said, also make you more able to make riskier choices. Learning from others in your company will also make you more able to understand them, how they work, and what they need to function purposefully and happily. The skill of ‘learning’ is one that you should keep fresh for all of these reasons.
By Chris Thomson
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