The Joy of Never Ending Learning
The quickest way to leadership obsolescence is to stop learning
I’ve watched a number of leaders as they progress from mid-level managers to executives, or owners of their own business.
(I suppose that means I’ve been around a long time also.)
It’s an old saw that the older you get, the less relevant you become. I hate that generalization; I hate is as much as when ‘experts’ tell us that Millennials are entitled or Gen Z’s are coddled. I know many Millenials that are incredibly hard workers and just as many Z’s who are self-aware. And lots and lots of Boomers who are computer savvy. And relevant.
Like any generalization, there are some truths. But difference between relevant and irrelevant leaders is simple:
Relevant leaders are never-ending learners.
They’re curious, not only about their industry but about the world. One of my business partners is in his mid-70’s. He is a relentless learner; constantly going to seminars, listening to podcasts, reading about things that make him relevant. He’s amazingly successful.
Another business owner who’s about the same age announced several years ago he’d never be able to learn any more. Eventually, clients and colleagues stopped going to him for advice; his leadership advice was from the 1980’s. He became irrelevant.
Leaders who don't evolve become irrelevant with alarming speed. I'm a huge advocate for never-ending learning.
I don't like listening to podcasts; I get bored too easily and want to fast forward to the good stuff.
What I do is read.
If you’d like to know what it is I read, here’s the list.
It takes time - on average about 5% of my working hours is spent reading. I generally read an hour every morning and 2 hours or so on the weekends.
It's easy to add but hard to remove. I review this list annually. If provides energy, I keep it. If it doesn’t, it’s out.
What are you reading, watching, listening in order to maintain your status as a contemporary leader?