Feb 24

The Need For Lifelong Learning

Heinz Landau
Heinz Landau is a seasoned business leader who has gained valuable working and leadership experience on three different continents.

Success in life depends on our ability to keep learning. That is true for students as well as for managers. Therefore, it is astonishing how few people seem to have embraced the idea of being a true learning person. I am observing again and again that employees and managers are stuck in day to day operational work and fail to set aside time for learning. And, by the way, in this case, budgeting time does not refer only to office hours, but also to your own private time.

Research shows that the strongest leaders are continuous learners. They are self-made learners. And a study among 326 CEOs in Canada by Doug Snetsinger, Institute of Market Driven Quality, part of the Faculty of Management, University of Toronto, showed a strong correlation between CEO learning and business performance.

The “Learning Leaders” – study found that “regardless of the size of the business or the industry in which it competes, organizations headed by learning leaders are far more likely to be achieving their operational goals than those that do not have that leadership. The higher the learning effectiveness of the senior team, the more likely that the firm is prospering.” Snetsinger concludes, “The CEO’s personal development is not personal. It is fundamental to sustaining and rejuvenating the health of the organization.”

The American business guru Jim Collins recommends to have not only long-, medium and short term objectives for performance, but also for learning. He states: “We are all driven by an urge to perform, accomplish, achieve and get things done. But: we need to set aside adequate time for learning respectively having a learning versus a performance lens.” Collins writes: “A true learning person also has a “to learn” – list, and the items on that list carry at least as much weight in how you organize your time as the “to do” – list.”

Great leadership requires lifelong learning. Good leaders always ask questions and view every challenge as an opportunity to learn. They are dedicated to seek and apply new knowledge. This is included systematically in their daily, weekly and monthly routines.

I suggest that you devote at least 10% of your time to personal improvement.

I suggest that you devote at least 10% of your time to personal improvement. There are many ways to learn new things: active listening, probing, reflecting, reading books, professional journals, articles in the Internet, listening to audio tapes, watching educational videos, attending seminars etc.

For companies, it is advisable to institutionalize debriefing sessions after every project where the lessons learned will be discussed. And last, but not least, one of the most effective learning methods I have come across is teaching. If you teach something, it implies that you have put a lot of effort into becoming a subject expert.

The rapidly changing world we are living in makes the case for lifelong learning. It requires constant learning and development. In this modern world, either you keep it up or you are left behind. Enthusiasm and dedication to lifelong learning are keys to success.

Jim Rohn, the late great American personal development expert said it best when he stated: “If you work hard on your job you can make a living. But, if you work hard on yourself, you can make a fortune.” Therefore, start today by working more intensively on your personal development. Spend more time and energy learning new things. And put the new knowledge into active use. It will pay off.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 24th, 2011 at 03:12 and is filed under Human Resources, Leadership, Management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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