Why Great Leaders Are Continuous Learners (And How to Become One)

Mar 27, 2013 | Categories: leadership

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Just before his 75th birthday, TTI Chairman Bill J. Bonnstetter told our staff, “I believe my best is yet to come.” Embodying the spirit of continuous learning, Bill is a prime example of “Why Great Leaders Never Stop Training,” the headline of a recent blog on Inc. Bill knows he will never stop learning and growing as an entrepreneur and business leader, and to quote the blog’s author, Brent Gleeson, “If you think you are done learning, you will fail. Check that: You have failed.”

Some people are intrinsically motivated by the pursuit of knowledge, meaning that regardless of the effects said knowledge will produce, they are driven to consume as much information as possible, satisfying their hunger for truth. Meanwhile, others may view obtaining knowledge as a necessary means to satisfy a desired end. Regardless, to thrive as a leader of an agile organization, one requires an aptitude for continuous learning.

Perhaps you’re not yet the CEO of a booming corporation. Whether you’re a mid-level manager, department director, or just out of college, here are some things you can do to develop your own skills in continuous learning to pave your way to the top:

  • Know what you key accountabilities are, what your supervisor expects of you and what you expect of yourself. It may even help to keep these posted in your workspace.
  • Make a list of personal continuous learning goals you have. They could be professional, as in obtaining a specific certification, or personal, such as learning another language.
  • Set reasonable expectations for your own progress, and relate your learning goals to specific activities you can accomplish on a regular basis.
  • Read, read, read. Carefully read major publications in your field and also read about topics outside your area of expertise. As you read, identify at least one critical insight and determine how you can apply that knowledge to your daily work.
  • Network with others by attending special events, seminars, workshops and conferences.
  • Experiment with new processes for routine tasks by looking at things from a different angle or applying something new to an old task.
  • Seek honest feedback from trusted mentors or peers and choose not to be defensive when you hear what they have to say.
  • Ruminate on both your successes and your mistakes. Discover how you might be able to apply to same skills in a different setting, or what events within your control could be changed in the future.

Today’s workplace requires that successful employees keep pace and continually learn new procedures, strategies, and technologies to stay abreast of developments in their fields. In turn, hiring managers can seek these employees by identifying candidates who are motivated by the pursuit of knowledge or who have well-developed continuous learning skills.

To see if TTI Success Insights can help your company discover successful employees, contact your TTI-certified associate or call (800) 869-6908. You can also begin your path to self-discovery by taking a free online assessment.

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About the Author

Ashley Bowers

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