“Am I an effective manager?” It’s an important question to ask yourself. But how do you answer it? Is the answer yes if your team meets its deadlines? Is the answer yes if you have a satisfactory performance review? Does your answer depend on how your superiors or subordinates view you?
While all of the options listed above play a part in indicating your effectiveness, they only scratch the surface. Effective management is evident over time in leaders who place a high priority on continuous learning. You may lead your team towards organization to ensure everyone meets their deadlines, but what happens if the office is shut down due to a pandemic? Maybe you had an outstanding performance review this year, but how will you retain employees, onboard new ones, and meet your sales goals when the Great Resignation rocks the foundation of your field? How do you develop trust, respect, and honesty with a new generation of employees whose values and expectations are different from your generation's?
The companies that thrive despite the storms barreling their way all have effective leaders and managers with one thing in common: they are learners. They refuse to accept that they have arrived but are continuously learning how to grow into a better leader. Your company's health depends on each leader’s appetite for knowledge and commitment to continuous learning.
Here are three ways continuous learning impacts your company and how you can practice continuous learning today.
1. Learning Increases Innovation
The most dangerous phrase in leadership is arguably, “This is the way we’ve always done it.” Refusing to learn from competitors, friends, colleagues, mentors, and other external parties will stifle creativity and progress. Embracing innovation means learning about new strategies and technology that will meet everyone’s needs—your customers and your employees. Discover fresh ideas and new strategies by listening to leadership podcasts and reading books and articles that are both inside and outside your field. When you learn from someone with a different background or perspective, you are more apt to find creative solutions to tired problems.
2. Learning Creates Great Teams
When leaders value learning, they also motivate their team to value learning as well. Teams committed to growth will see exponentially higher ROI than those only encouraged to reach the status quo. As you lead by example, you can create opportunities for your team members to reach their full potential and accomplish more than they ever thought possible. Employees that feel this sense of empowerment, are recorded as having increased job satisfaction which directly impacts their level of performance. Leaders should model their growth tactics and establish opportunities to coach their employees. Allow your teams to learn from their mistakes, not be reprimanded for them. Show that you care about the personal growth of each team
member so that everyone is committed to lifelong learning. Consider finding a mentor who will push you out of your comfort zone and provide an outsider’s perspective on your leadership tactics and business goals. Encourage a mentorship program within the organization that enables younger employees to learn from—and be challenged by—their colleagues.
3. Learning Makes You Resilient
In the face of adversity, learners adapt quickly, solve problems, and continue accomplishing their goals. Setbacks, change, and times of crisis rarely rattle the leaders committed to learning. They have made a habit of anticipating change, giving and receiving feedback, and implementing new ideas. They view challenges as opportunities to grow, collaborate, create, and shift into a new era. Continuous learners can think clearly and critically, identify the need for change when it occurs, and lead their teams with confidence and agility. Continuous learners prepare their teams for seasons of change by encouraging them to collaborate on all projects and rewarding them for trying something new.
One of the best ways to elevate your leadership skills and keep up with industry trends is to attend a seminar or participate in leadership training programs. At Front Line Leadership, we offer 10 leadership programs that are unique to your organization, that strengthen your leadership skills, and prepare future leaders and managers for upcoming responsibilities. To learn more about our programs, contact Front Line Leadership!