Continuous Learning

Transformational leaders are committed to continuous learning to ensure that they are fulfilling their own, and their organization’s potential.

As a transformational leader, you can’t ask the organization to grow and improve unless you are willing to grow and improve. You can’t fake it or just go through the motions to comply with a standard that you set for others.

Instead, you must demonstrate a singular commitment to continuous improvement that emerges from the integrity of who you are as a person and what you stand for as a leader.

Continuous learning and improvement is a hunger and a passion to stretch beyond your comfort zone, beyond false pride, to embrace the new territory of personal impeccability.

This commitment demands that we give up the false persona of the leader-the appearances of someone who has it all together, knows all the answers, is a “finished product.” That’s not a leader; that’s an actor from Central Casting.

If you have stopped learning in the job, you should move on. You’re complacent, stale, and going through the motions. That complacency will leak into the organization and undermine performance.

Here are four practices to keep you on the cutting edge:

1. Dream Bigger

Overturn complacency by setting transformational goals for yourself and your organization. These goals should stretch you, not rip you apart. There is nothing as self-defeating as setting impossible goals. Ask yourself provocative questions like: What will make me a better leader?” What will inspire the organization? What will provide real value to our marketplace? Make sure that the goals that you set make you a little uncomfortable. That’s a sign that you are in the zone of positive change not the comfort zone.

2. Explore New Learning Environments

Creative stimulation comes from expeditions to the learning edge where new people, new perspectives and works-in-progress are taking place. Inventing the future is never achieved by sticking to the status quo. Invention comes when you hang out with inventors, especially those working on intriguing problems. You will be amazed how stimulating such company can be!

3. Seek Feedback

Feedback is a mechanism for improvement in any enterprise. Those who care about their business are always asking customers, clients and stakeholders about how to improve their products and services. Transformational leaders apply that thinking to their own performance. They utilize the constructive insights of others to get better at what they do and how they do it. For feedback to be effective, it’s important to elicit multiple perspectives-the board, your boss, peers, and direct reports. Of course, your partner or spouse usually has something to add that may be tempting to ignore but is usually right on the money. Protect yourself from blind spots and vanity. Ask for help.

4. Get Coaching

 Every elite athlete uses a coach to help them grow, improve, develop good habits, break bad habits and win. A coach provides the creative tension that overcomes the comfort zone ¬– that plateau we hit just before we doze off. Working with a coach provides the help necessary to go to another level of excellence. Goal setting, learning to manage both tasks and relationships, problem solving, and ensuring time for reflection are all results of working with a committed partner in your growth and development.

Continuous improvement is one measure of transformational leadership. It always begins at the top.




Posted on June 1, 2009 .