Keep Learning, Listening, Reading and Developing

Are you a leader or aspiring leader? Then this is a must read.

One of the main tasks of a leader is to develop himself. Sometimes, you become so busy that you neglect this very important aspect. A leader who doesn’t continue developing becomes irrelevant. The question is, what’s the best way for you to hone your leadership skills? There are no shortcuts — you have to keep on learning, listening, and reading.

Leaders are learners

Leaders need to continue learning.   As the world changes, organizations and their needs also change. If you want to be effective, you have to learn to develop new leadership skills.  This is the reason why corporations and higher institutions of learning invest so much in developing leadership skills.

So how do you learn and teach leadership? The International Journal of Leadership Studies cites the most promising and popular practices:

  • 360 feedback – feedback from peers, direct reports, supervisors, and outside stakeholders increases self-awareness of your impact on others, which in turn increases intrapersonal competence
  • coaching – one on one learning. Learners should be ready to change and willing to be coached by a compatible coach.
  • mentoring – junior is formally or informally paired with a more experienced organizational member
  • networking – connect to others outside your work who can help you improve
  • job assignments – work assignments intentionally matched with your developmental needs are given to you
  • action learning – you work on real-time organizational problems

Leaders are listeners

Do you want to become a better leader? Here’s some blunt advice for you: Stop talking and start listening.   Well-known American author, speaker, and leadership trainer John Maxwell says, “Leaders listen, learn, and then lead.”

Listening is an effective way to learn and grow. You can’t be isolated and withdrawn if you want to be a good leader. A heart and mind to listen captures the hearts and minds of your people. When you listen, you get to have a sense of where your people are. You understand where they’re coming from and gain insight to what your organization needs. Listening is also a great way to keep problems from escalating.  You hear the issues before they even get out of hand. You find solutions before problems get bigger.

Leaders are readers

For those who want to learn to lead, read. This is how the Harvard Business Review directly puts it. Evidence shows that reading has great leadership benefits:

  • improves intelligence, which leads to insight and innovation
  • helps you acquire and assimilate new information quickly
  • enhances creativity
  • increases verbal intelligence to help you communicate more effectively
  • improves empathy and understanding of social cues to help you work with and understand others better
  • keeps you relaxed and improves your health

If you’re finding it hard to read, you can motivate yourself by joining book clubs, varying the things you read, and reading for fun. Even satirical comic strips like Dilbert can provide frank insight as to how employees really feel about organizational structures, supervisors, and work ethics.

Developing leadership skills through learning, listening, and reading involves time and effort. But if you’re passionate about leading, you’ll enjoy the whole process and the results that come with it.