Leadership development: Learning to Learn from Experience

July 11, 2018 by Wally Bock

Leadership development is a lifelong endeavor, filled with learning experiences. It’s a lot like learning to cook

If you want to become a great cook, reading a cookbook won’t do the trick. You must actually cook stuff. And most of the stuff you cook in the beginning won’t be very good.

You can’t develop skill without practicing it. Leadership is no exception. That’s why you must learn to learn from experience.

Leadership development: reflect on experience

Here’s the advice I give every new manager I talk to. Buy a journal. Use it to record your experience and reflect.

Develop the habit of capturing your impressions as soon after an incident as possible. You don’t need much detail, but you do need to capture the important things, so you’ll remember them later.

Develop the habit of spending some time at the end of the day reflecting on your experience and what it means. Be sure to think about how you can do things better the next time you encounter a similar situation. Think about what skills you should develop.

Develop the habit of reviewing your journal at least every month. You’ll spot patterns that will guide your development effort.

Leadership development: enrich your thinking

Reading will expand your horizons and deepen your understanding of experience. Leadership books will be part of your mix, of course. But broaden your reading to include psychology, history, and biography. You’ll learn a lot by studying leaders and how they act.

Seek feedback. This is difficult for most people, but it’s a potent source of learning. Feedback will enrich your reflection.

Ask for advice. Don’t be afraid of asking more experienced leaders for advice. Seek out mentors and coaches to enrich your understanding and accelerate your development.

Leadership development: try things

Reflection is important, but if all you do is reflect you won’t develop very much. So, use your reflection time to decide what you want to try. Then step out and do it.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Leadership Development

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