“I am not young enough to know everything.” – Oscar Wilde
A few weeks ago I posted something about how important it is for leaders to be lifelong learners. An enthusiasm for learning is one of the surest predictors that you have a chance to be a successful leader. But it can’t just be you.
One of your biggest challenges as a leader is not just being a lifelong learner yourself, but creating an organization that functions the same way. You need your people, individually and collectively, to be constantly seeking out new ideas and new knowledge and new methods. Your business is going to have to change over and over, and for that to work you need people for whom learning to do new things is exciting and rewarding.
So how do you do that? Here’s some random ideas…
Be intentional. Hoping something happens doesn’t work. You have to actually do something. Create time in your organization specifically for learning. Maybe it’s part of a weekly staff meeting, maybe it’s some kind of regular thing over lunch hour, etc. Whatever it is, be purposeful. Don’t just hope it’s happening.
Provide some help. Wanting a learning organization is great, but if you tell people to just go out there and learn, you may get a lot of blank looks. Bring in a speaker. Have a book club. Sign up people for training, online or otherwise. Tell people you want an organization of learners, then show them how they might get started.
Start at the top. Nothing kills a good idea quicker than telling everybody how important it is and then letting them watch management not do it. If you say learning is such a big deal, what are you doing with your leadership team or your managers to make sure they’re learning? Maybe you need to send them somewhere off site, maybe you need to bring in some external training – whatever the case, make sure the other leaders are doing it and that everybody knows they’re doing it.
If we want our businesses to make the change they need to make, then we need help from everybody. Make sure everybody is prepared to give that help. Create that culture of learning all the way through the business. Build an army of lifelong learners.