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If one may, for instance, visualise leadership as a high-end model of a car, then continuous learning takes its place as the car’s fuel; enabling it to go on smooth and long drives. In an era marked by rapid technological advancements and shifting market dynamics, the essence of leadership is no longer rooted solely in innate ability or past success. Instead, the spotlight turns to a less tangible, yet more dynamic attribute: the commitment to continuous learning.

The business world is not static, and leaders who engage in lifelong learning are better equipped to pivot and adapt. Continuous learning fosters an agile mindset, allowing leaders to anticipate changes and innovate proactively; thus granting them the gift of adaptability in an ever-changing landscape. The knowledge gained becomes a catalyst for innovation. Leaders who are continuous learners keep their organisations at the cutting edge, driving growth and maintaining competitive advantage. Plus, a leader committed to personal development sets a powerful example for their teams. This demonstration of intellectual curiosity can inspire an organisation-wide culture of learning. Not to mention that continuous learning expands a leader’s repertoire of knowledge and experiences, leading to more informed and strategic decision-making. It enhances one’s ability to evaluate risks, and rewards, and to draw on a broader spectrum of solutions to complex challenges.

Well, it is easy to see why it is important. But, why is it even more important in a technological world? Well, you see, it is the mentality that matters. The mentality to always be ready and accepting of new knowledge, information, or technology. Today, technologies spring up faster than day can change to night. We have to admit that it is very hard to always keep up with the latest tech in town. In such a scenario, the attitude to learn and think on your feet is a constant help at all positions, but especially in upper management. After all, the decisions these guys make causes effects that ripple outward to a large distance.

Once the world of business realised the importance of this viewpoint, leaders began to try and figure out how to apply AI to just about every part of their company and manage hybrid workforces while trying to maintain strong connections. This kind of rapid change adds pressure to leaders at all levels to learn new skills, tools, and ways of working just to keep up, let alone get ahead. Yet, being comfortable as the student gets harder the higher you rise in an organisation. So how do you expand your knowledge without appearing uninformed or vulnerable?

You have to know what is changing, why it’s changing, and become the bold enabler of that change in your business. And, you have to do this continuously. For this to become a habit, the trait of curiosity needs to be ingrained in you.

Here are a few ways leaders can keep learning while avoiding potential pitfalls:

  • Create a safe space for learning- The good thing about being a leader is that you do have a lot of authority and executive control. So why not use that for the benefit of yourself and others? The fundamental problem with learning as an adult, especially more seasoned adults, is you don’t want to be seen as learning to crawl and walk in front of other people. By organising smaller groups of peers, leaders will be more comfortable asking questions and appearing vulnerable. It helps if you can see others learning to walk with you.
  • Enrol in executive leadership programs- Many business schools have long offered executive leadership programs that give leaders an opportunity to set aside time to learn among peers at different companies. Today, there also are a growing number of shorter-term certification programs focused on areas such as AI, ML, and more offered by universities and other organisations.
  • Self-learning- There is no substitute for this. Nobody knows your learning needs as well as you do. Only you will be able to pace yourself in this regard. Your own hard work and application will have no equal substitute. LinkedIn Learning also offers tens of thousands of courses on everything from executive presence to generative AI. You can even make a game out of learning new skills. As you advance to new levels, leaders can see their growth and progress in a tangible way. Plus, this type of e-learning can be mobile-friendly, allowing people to use downtime traveling or otherwise to advance their online education via phone or other device.
  • Consider coaching/co-mentorship- This is a reciprocal idea that involves pairing people, usually at different levels, so each can learn from the other. It’s a trend that has begun over the past decade because it breaks down the hierarchy and creates connections that likely wouldn’t exist otherwise. Coaching allows both parties to be both teacher and student, thereby diminishing potential vulnerability. Thus, the leader can take on the role of a coach and a coachee as well.
  • Seek help from external experts- Not only do outside consultants often speed the adoption of new technology, they can also deepen your understanding of what’s possible with the latest tools. From a behavioural aspect point of view, a leader can fully open up to an outside expert because there are no pre-conceived notions or relations from working in the same company! It is a fresh slate to start writing anew.

Overall, the biggest hurdle for leaders isn’t the actual learning, but knowing you need help. When you pretend you know everything and start fooling yourself that way, that’s usually the end of you as a leader. Thus, always look at yourself as a work in progress. It removes the ego and enables continued learning.