Actually, it is not (quite) true. There are leaders everywhere that are trying their best to hide every day, like ostriches burying their heads in the sand, when their team isn’t achieving what they could. Leaders who want to blame others, the economy or the market for their team’s lack of success. Or “leaders” that have a title, and shouldn’t have it – because they aren’t leading anyway. These leaders are trying to avoid learning, changing and growing.
What is true is that you can’t hide if you want your team to succeed, if you are willing to recognize your role in your team’s success, and if you care enough to work.
If you are in the second group, you can’t avoid learning.
I know, you may be reading this article on my blog titled Leadership and Learning, so this would seem to be a pretty obvious thing for me to write about – and yes, I have written about it a lot in the past, (spend some time on my blog and it won’t take you long to find the linkage).
I 100% believe that to become the leader you are capable of becoming you must be a learner – the work of leadership is too complex to learn in one workshop or by reading one (or even a few) books.
While all of that is true, I sometimes wonder if that misses the point. After all, the leader who wants to learn will do what they need to do, invest time, effort and money in learning, and more. But those people aren’t avoiding learning, they are seeking it out.
While I believe leaders “should” want to learn for their own purposes and reasons (and when this is true it will likely be most effective), there is another, perhaps even more pragmatic reason why leaders can’t avoid learning. . .
Because they don’t have perfect teams or team members.
I’ve met leaders who were proud of their team, leaders of by any measure, high performing teams, but I have never met a leader who thought their team had reached their potential.
Every leader wants their team members to grow, develop and get better in their current job, or be preparing for a future job. Even ostrich leaders want this.
You can’t get that growth, development, and change without learning – it is part of the package.
So we’ve established that all leaders want their teams and team members to improve, which means they want their teams to be learning, right?
So what is the best way for leaders to encourage, coach and influence others to be learners?
I’ll answer that question in a second.
As a parent, if you want your kids to eat vegetables, what is the best way to do that? Have them see you eating veggies. You can tell them, implore them, beg them, even bribe them, but if no broccoli ever enters your mouth, how likely will the other tactics work?
Not so well.
Of course even if you love that broccoli, there is no guarantee the kid will eat it (that choice in the end is theirs), but your example is the most powerful influencer there is.
If you want your kids to be readers, you turn off the TV and pick up a book.
If you want people to walk on your sidewalk and not in your grass, but they see your size 10’s in the grass, you influence is weakened – drastically.
I could give you ten more examples, but the message is already clear. If you want your people to be learning and growing (and you all do), then they must see you growing and learning too.
Every leader wants their people to improve.
Every follower wants a leader who leads by example.
It’s time to take your head out of the sand. It is time to start leading . . . by example.
It’s time to start learning.
(If you want a simple, practical and fun way to start working on your learning habits, try 13 Days to Remarkable Leadership– it is free and delivered to you every day.)