A leader that stops learning has resigned from leadership. The leaders that I admire the most are life long learners. So that makes a couple of things true. Leaders are readers. Leaders are question askers. Leaders seek others who have more knowledge than they do about a particular subject.
I had a fantastic chat with Dan Portnoy who is going to be the next guest on the Creative Leadership Podcast. I've talked about Dan and his book multiple times since starting the blog and I'm thrilled he agreed to be interviewed. I like to do a "get to know" conversation prior to the interview and I could of asked Dan questions all morning. He blew me away with what he knows about telling a great story and how non-profits can do the same.
I've learned there are a couple of things I must do to improving my ability to learn:
1. Look for wisdom - If we bunker ourselves in our office all day it's pretty hard to find thoughts of wisdom. You have to go looking for it. This is what first attracted me to Twitter. I found people I admired sharing links to what they know or something they have learned. It's great that I can send messages to friends but I am mainly on Twitter to learn.
2. Ask for help - It's such a dangerous leadership mistake to assume you have all the answers. I simply can't know everything. And in reality, I barely know anything. So l benefit greatly when I stop and ask for help and my team benefits as well! I've never stopped asking questions nor have I ever been fearful of asking questions. I once was used by upperclassman in a in a difficult micro economics class to ask any question they were embarrassed to ask. I like to think of it as one of my "postures" in life, I like to lean forward. Are you known as a question asker? (See what I did there? And again..)
3. Don't be afraid to approach those who know - This is something podcasting has taught me. If someone has worked hard to educate the rest of us about a topic we shouldn't be afraid to approach them about learning more. Depending on the source and the topic, they might or might not have the margin in their life to actually engage you. But that shouldn't stop you from reaching out. You never know what kind of extended learning you might get and the amazing conversations that could follow if you approached a person you respected as a credible source on a topic.
Learning is a practice as is leadership. We don't always have to be the answer to the problem but we should be the ones leading the charge to new ideas through learning. What have you discovered that helps you learn? Is there anything else you would add to the list? Please comment below!