Continuous Learner – A Critical Aspect for Being Resilient

Welcome Back! As you know, I took the summer off from blogging to write my second book which will be published early next year. It’s about “The Resilient Leader” and I am using a very great woman, known to you all, as an example of how to apply specific strategies and techniques to survive and thrive as a leader in challenging times. You’ll have to stay posted to see who she is!

In addition to writing these past few months, I’ve continued to speak at a variety of events throughout the country. Last week, I was invited by the University of Toledo (in Ohio) to address their business community. It was a unique event in that it wasn’t really a conference or a usual university offering, it was a “give back” by the University to their business leaders who are feeling the effects of our current economic recession. I spoke on resiliency, which I believe is one of the keys to success for any leader today, and I focused on one of the chapters in my new book- Continuous Learning.

While the University is reaching out to business leaders with all sorts of formal courses and lectures to support both the training and re-training of staff, I believe each of us needs to have the spirit of continuous learning as an integral part of our daily lives. Whether we are faced with an immediate need to learn something new in order to keep or get a job, or we are likely to remain in our current job for a comfortable period of time, I think we all become stronger leaders when learning is part of our life journey.

The first, and often the easiest, thing to do is to raise your self-awareness in terms of your leadership effectiveness. Based on two decades of research at SHAMBAUGH, I can tell you with confidence that the areas that will significantly impact your ultimate success include: power and influence, business savvy, encouraging innovation, managing change, building strategic relationships, strategic thinking, managing upward and effective collaboration. If your organization has a 360 assessment, I encourage you to leverage it to your advantage. As well, you need to have several individuals, whom you both respect and trust, give you on-going situational feedback on a regular basis. This is what keeps your self-awareness learning alive and relevant.

The second thing to do is to get out of your comfort zone once in awhile. When I’m talking to leaders about this, I often ask them to tell me about a time in their lives when they learned the greatest lessons or had their greatest break-throughs. Just about every story I hear involves an experience where they took a risk. Some have happy endings and some don’t. It doesn’t seem to matter. Our personal and professional growth can come from either one because it’s not the outcome of the experience that has the most significant impact on us, it’s the journey and what we learned along the way. So, try some new things!

And, it’s important to learn from your mistakes. Know that leaders become “great” leaders not from their successes, but learning from their list of mistakes. If you’re alive, you’re going to make them! It’s called being human. The only really fatal mistake is one that you don’t learn from. In many organizations, projects are reviewed in terms of “Lessons Learned” with the focus on improvement rather than blame. I think this is the mindset we all need to have when we know we’ve tried our best but things just didn’t turn out the way we wanted them to.

Lastly, remember to learn from others. I have always been a curious person. As a little girl growing up in the Midwest, I was always asking “why” or “how" questions because I didn’t want to miss out on anything happening around me. My father had a huge influence on me. Watching him build one of the largest general contracting firms in the country was one of my greatest learning experiences. And, I’ve had many others mentors throughout my career. Some I’ve learned from by simply observing them in action, others have been a source of information and insight, and many have given me feedback that was invaluable. Look around, learn what to do (and what not to do!) from others in every sort of business situation. This is what keeps you on the journey of continuous learning and gives you the foundation for being resilient throughout your life.

So, three things to remember, for continuous learning:

  • Raise your self-awareness regarding your leadership effectiveness
  • Get out of your comfort zone, try new things and learn from your mistakes
  • Be curious and learn from others

If you would like to begin your journey of continuous learning, our SHAMBAUGH coaches can help you get started. For more information, contact Christine Maggio at cmaggio@shambaughleadership.com and we will find the perfect coach for you!

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