Here’s a thought. School’s never out for the professional. How does that make you feel? Excited or depressed? Continuous formal learning, whether in the university classroom or the corporate training room, is a necessity–not a luxury–for all of us. But there is another, informal style of learning that leaders need to encourage. It is learning because of curiosity and need.
I was at a speaker showcase several years ago when I heard a presenter by the name of Bob Prichard say, "When you’re not learning–someone somewhere else is. When you meet–guess who has the advantage." I’ve carried that concept with me every day since. As a leader, you need to ask yourself if you could honestly say that your team is smarter today than they were a year ago. If they are, do you know how they got that way? Good business means, in part, replicating effective behavior, but you can’t replicate behavior that you don’t know about. Start asking questions about learning.
Finding out how your people learn can be a fascinating exercise. You’ll find those who learn by doing, some who learn by listening, and others who need to see a picture (either real or imagined) before something sinks in. The advantage of a supported do-ityourself learning environment is that everyone can have their learning the way they need it. You can be part of the support process. Does your organization have a library? Does it have both books and books on tape? Are there whiteboards and flipcharts available for everyone’s use? Do you understand that doodling, muttering under your breath, and standing up during a meeting can all be signs of a person learning? It appears as though there could be a lot for you to learn.
Why bother? Because of the competition. You can bet they’re learning, and if they are and you aren’t, the future starts looking dim. So, start asking a few questions. Who knows, you might learn something!