When you’re a business leader — whether in retail, in your own restaurant, or even in a new startup — it’s easy to feel somewhat complete. Reaching the point at which you’re leading a business takes a lot of hard work and experience, and leaves you feeling more accountable to yourself than to any superiors. In a certain way, it’s a recipe for satisfaction — for feeling like you’ve achieved success, and the only job left is to keep the ship afloat. This is all understandable, and to some extent it’s even okay! A leader should feel accomplishment, and should feel as if he or she is in control. At the same time, the most effective leaders are those who don’t give in completely to these sentiments. Rather, they make an effort to continue learning.
Here are a few reasons why this is the case.
Effective Leaders Take Advantage of New Tech
The importance of embracing new tech is being emphasized more than ever in light of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, it’s something that was touched on at this very site in the blog post ‘Adapting to Change with Workforce Ready Apps’ in March. In difficult times, more than ever, employees need to be “workforce ready” by familiarizing themselves with new, adaptive technologies.
This remains a vital aspect of keeping any sort of business going in light of the pandemic, and really moving into the future in general. But it’s also something that should stem from a business leader’s preparedness to learn about relevant new tech. A leader stuck in his or her ways might resist new ways of addressing old practices. An effective leader open to learning new things will eagerly research new opportunities and implement new tech to improve efficiency. In some cases, that tech can keep a business alive.
Higher Qualifications and Distinctions Matter
In a more general sense, today’s business leaders should also maintain a willingness to learn. This is because in many cases it can lead directly to higher qualifications and distinctions. The prevalence of online school programs makes it easier to study toward business degrees while working. According to the online master’s in business administration overview on Maryville University, this sort of education can occur 100% online, and can lead to an MBA in just one year. That can be a very big deal for anyone running a business.
Typically we wouldn’t think of the idea that one should “never stop learning” in such literal terms. But by studying for advanced degrees, effective leaders can actually put their companies in better positions. An MBA will often garner more respect from potential partners or investors — not to mention the practical education in how to run a business can come in handy!
Effective Leaders Set a Positive Example for Employees
This isn’t quite as pointed a tip, but it stands to reason that any leader who openly demonstrates a capacity to continue learning — if not a passion to do so — will have a positive impact on employees. Whether in retail, restaurants, or virtually any other kind of workplace, employees want to see that leaders care about processes and have passion for improvement. A leader stuck in his or her ways and resistant to change won’t convey these traits. Resistant leaders will often inspire a more passive workforce. Leaders who learn, on the other hand, will spread a certain sense of optimism, possibility, and positive energy.
Developing Team Skills is an Continuous Goal
There’s a piece on learning in leadership at Inc. that makes the important point that not all learning has to involve new knowledge or practices. Other forms of learning for leaders in business might entail things like figuring out how to demonstrate vulnerability to teams. Or practicing empathy with employees.
These aren’t the first ideas that come to mind when we think of learning in business, but there is certainly something to be said for leaders who recognize the need to develop skills with their teams as well. This aspect of a business can always improve, and the leader should set the tone.
Effective Leaders Maintain Their Curiosity
The most important point of all? It might be that a leader who continues to learn will also be better able to maintain a general sense of curiosity. This was a point that was alluded to in a Harvard Business School professor’s post on Live Mint, wherein the core concept was that the very job of a leader is to keep learning. As a leader, one must continually learn how to do the job differently (and better), and thus to stay curious about new ideas and methods. A leader open to learning will find ways to improve, and thereby maintain curiosity about how to find more.
All considered, the capacity to learn is one of the core traits of a truly effective leader.
Guest post authored by Ramona June.