Almost every successful leader has one thing in common — they never tire of learning. Lifelong learning is one of the key factors in growing successful businesses. The reason it makes such a difference is that it gives leaders an edge. If you want to become a better leader, make continuous learning a priority.
How Continuous Learning Gives You An Edge
Leaders with a thirst for knowledge are the ones that gain an advantage over their peers and competitors. Here’s why.
Keeps You Updated With Industry Trends and Technology
In this fast-paced world, if you’re not keeping up with the latest trends and technology you won’t stay ahead of the curve and your competitors will overtake you. Whether it’s attending conferences or tracking trends on social media, leaders who stay informed are able to be proactive rather than reactive.
Upgrades Your Skills
Your team is only as good as your leadership. If you’re upgrading your skills, you pass these on to your team and that helps propel the business forward. Skills development isn’t just about technical skills. It can also be soft skills like interpersonal skills, negotiating skills, and adaptability. Even personal development courses can help you evolve into a well-rounded leader.
It Helps You Think Outside The Box
Businesses that are innovative are often strides ahead of the competition. The secret to innovation is lifelong learning. That’s because learning opens your thinking to new ideas that can spark innovation. Rigid leaders stagnate while open-minded and flexible leaders come up with creative solutions. Learning about new technology, methods, and techniques can prompt you to think outside the box.
It Elevates Your Personal Brand
Personal branding is about how you market yourself in terms of your skills, experience, and personality. It builds your reputation, something that’s crucial for leaders. People naturally follow a credible leader. Continuous learning is one way to build a strong reputation and elevate your personal brand. Knowledge is convincing and makes you more persuasive. If you know what you’re talking about, people listen and respect your opinion.
Six Ways To Continue Learning
Learning isn’t about formal education only. Lifelong learning comes in various forms, and some of it is free. Just having a conversation with a peer or a thought leader can offer valuable insight. Here are six ways to continue learning.
1. Read books
Reading books has become a lost art. A 2015 survey by the National Endowment for the Arts showed that only 43% of Americans read literature. Successful leaders are the opposite. Some of the most successful and busiest leaders on the planet, like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, have an insatiable appetite for reading. They make time to read because they know how important reading is for learning and leadership.
2. Listen to podcasts
There is an abundance of podcasts available online. TED Talks, for example, has many excellent talks that are informative and inspiring. If you admire a well-known leader, subscribe to their podcast and you’ll be privy to all their leadership tips. If you feel you weren’t born a leader, Coaching for Leaders with Dave Stachowiak believes leaders aren’t born, they’re made. There’s a ton of content to help develop leadership skills — from a weekly leadership guide, an audio course, and interviews with leadership experts.
Networking offers the opportunity to meet new people. From these interactions can come plenty of learning opportunities. The broader your network, the more you can learn from others. There’s always someone who has traveled the road before you. You can even learn from those who are at the same point in the journey as you are. Always be open to talking to people. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn.
4. Connect with a mentor
Most successful leaders and entrepreneurs believe in mentorship. Mentors are proven to help small business owners achieve success faster. A survey by Kabbage revealed that 92% of the small business owners said that mentorship had a direct impact on the growth of their business. Mentors push you beyond your comfort zone. They also provide objective insight and a different perspective on your leadership and business direction.
5. Attend seminars, virtual keynotes, and conferences
Attending seminars, conferences, and following virtual keynote speakers helps you to keep pace with industry trends, upgrade your skills, and grow your network. There are also several great seminars and conferences focused on strengthening leadership skills.
6. Formal study
Lastly, don’t overlook the benefits of formal study. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, consider studying for a master’s in your field or in management and leadership. Gaining a master’s degree not only helps you gain new knowledge but can open doors to better jobs in leadership and an increase in salary.
As a busy leader, you may argue that it’s difficult to find time for continuous learning. If Tony Robbins read 100 books a year for seven years, you too can make time for learning. If you’re serious about becoming a more dynamic leader, then you can’t afford not to.