In Change, Leaders

“Once you stop learning, you start dying.” – Albert Einstein

One of the things that has been mentioned in this space a number of times in the past is the idea that as leaders, we have a tendency to learn and grow and develop until we reach a certain point, and then our learning curve flattens out.  It’s not always on purpose, in fact it rarely is.  It’s just that we are very busy and we make other things a priority.

The problem is that the world is constantly changing, and so are the industries and businesses in which we operate.  If we don’t spend our whole lives learning, we will fall behind and become irrelevant.  It doesn’t matter whether you think you’re too busy; the reality is you don’t have a choice.  You have to continue to learn & grow or eventually you’ll be of no value to anyone.

So think about the year 2022.  There’s still 75% of it left.  What do you need to learn over the next 9 months?  What specific skill or capability do you lack?  Maybe it’s something to do with technology or products or customers.  Maybe it’s something to do with people or leadership.  Maybe it’s something to do with strategy or creative thinking.

Make a list of those things.  Now ask yourself which of them is most important.  What’s the one most critical skill or capability for you to develop over the next 9 months?  I understand that there may be things on the list that take longer than 9 months to master.  That’s great.  If it’s the most important thing, then pick it anyway.

Once you decide what that most important skill or capability is, make a plan for how you’re going to develop it.  Is there a class to take?  A book to read?  A group to join?  A paper to write?  What exactly do you need to do to get good at this?  Make sure your plan has due dates – if you just say you’ll get to it “when you have time”, it’ll never happen.

You might have read the last 3 paragraphs and thought they were pretty simple.  And they were.  But you still have to actually do it.  And too many leaders don’t.  Too many leaders aren’t purposeful about their own development.  They may learn things accidentally or at random, but the things they learn may not be what’s really critical.

Be intentional about your own learning.  Be purposeful about your own development.  Your ability to perform as a leader in the future is dependent on your ability to grow & change.  Don’t leave it to chance or hope.  Make a plan & get to work learning.

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