Leadership development and Lifetime Learning

February 20, 2019 by Wally Bock

Leadership development has always embraced lifetime learning. We expect leaders to continue to learn and develop throughout their life. Suddenly we’re making a big deal of it.

I gritted my teeth when I read an article titled “How to Create an Environment of Lifelong Learning as The Leader.” The author says, “Over the past several years, CEOs have begun to embrace the importance of becoming lifelong learners.”

Lifelong learning isn’t new. And it’s not some rare, exotic thing. People learn naturally and enthusiastically. The problem comes when we mistake formal curricula, classroom lectures, and pop quizzes for learning. Classrooms and lectures are artificial. Learning is natural. 

Leadership Development and Learning Today

Leadership development doesn’t have to be the school master anymore. So, chuck that model out the window and replace it with a librarian. My friend Liz, the librarian, will tell you that a librarian’s job is to gather resources and then make them easy for people to find and use. That’s a good model for leadership development.

As with most other parts of life, people like to learn best when they control the process. They want to make the key choices about what they learn and when and how. The more we can make that happen, the more effective we will be.

Leadership Development Programs and Lifetime Learning

We’re not limited to curating learning resources and making them available. Help aspiring leaders master the tools of learning from experience.

Teach developing leaders how to recognize learning opportunities that develop in daily life. Help them develop the habit of reflection. Encourage them to try out new ideas to enhance their learning.

Bottom Line

Human beings love learning and learn naturally. Help them do a better job by identifying useful resources and making them easy to find and use. Encourage them to learn by letting them decide about what they will learn, and when, and how. Help them master the skills of learning from experience.

Thought-Provoking Reading 

From John Hagel: The Threat and Opportunity hof Lifelong Learning

“Our conversations and media are increasingly consumed by the topic of the “future of work.” And, within this topic, one of the buzzwords that has emerged and acquired increasing prominence is “lifelong learning.” The message is that, in a more rapidly changing world, we’re all going to have to abandon the traditional notion of going to school to learn and then going into a career to apply the learning we’ve received.

While this is certainly an important message, I’m deeply troubled by the loose way it’s communicated – it rarely questions our traditional view of learning, it rarely addresses the issue of motivation and it doesn’t systematically explore what’s required to support lifelong learning.”

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

Posted in Leadership Development

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