Leaders Are Learners

Having the right mindset is the beginning of the success journey

Regardless of a person’s position, title, job description, or reputation within the organisation, a highly effective leader will always listen to them, with objective that they can learn something from them. Especially if the person is one of their own teammates.

We can learn anything from anyone, no matter who they are. That is how a highly effective leader gets their insights. This is not just in the workplace either, they are willing to learn from anybody in all walks of life they come across.

1. Leaders Don’t Know Everything

Every member of your team will know something you don’t know, and you know something that they don’t know too. So everybody has a wealth of knowledge that can help each teammate. The key is to have curiosity about what each of your teammates know, and what their outlook on certain situations are.

Being curious is how we involve the whole team when there’s a problem we need to solve. The closest team member to a certain problem, will know more about the problem than anyone else. So, they will be able to give us the most information about it that will help solve the problem.

A highly effective leader will listen to them first, and then involve the rest of the team when they need to find out more information that will improve things.

Highly effective leaders are educated through school, college, maybe university, just like everyone else does. However, they don’t stop their education there. They believe that they need a lifetime education that will span 60 to 70 years, and they need to keep learning every single day of their lives.

If they don’t do this then they believe that they are missing out on something, and it will irritate them. Personal growth is constant to a highly effective leader, and never stops.

The more a highly effective leader learns, the more aware they are of the things in their life that they don’t know about. So, the more a highly effective leader knows, the more they realise what they don’t know.

A low performing leader relies on what they have learned either in school, college, university or from their last jobs. They don’t believe that they should continue educating themselves. For a low performing leader, education stopped when they no longer had to visit the classrooms and listen to teachers or professors.

2. We Must Educate Ourselves

The average person, and this used to include me, believe that an education is school, college, or university. They believe that when school, college, or university is over that our education is over. However, this is not true. To be a real student, and to be a highly effective leader, you have to ‘educate yourself’ every day of your life.

All a school, college, or university can do for a person is to lay the foundations for an education. It is then up to the student to work on themselves every day to keep learning. A student loan, or a sponsorship from an organisation or industry cannot get you educated.

It is really just the building blocks to start a person off on their daily learning journey. An education requires hard work, and it is not completed after the usual four years of a college or university. It is a lifelong journey, and the more you realise that now, then the better it will be for you.

Highly effective leaders are aware of this, and they work on themselves, and educate themselves everyday by constantly learning. No matter what the source of learning is. It can be from their leader, a teammate, a book, a website, a family member, it doesn’t matter. All that is important is that you are constantly learning.

We have spoken at length about having humility as one the important traits that a highly effective leader must have. To be constantly learning, by having humility will keep you grounded, and allow you to have the right attitude to learning.

3. Humility

Humility is a thread that goes through most of the traits required to be a highly effective leader, especially when you are learning something new. Without humility, it won’t be possible for you to become a highly effective leader.

Low performing leaders who have an attitude of, “I don’t need to learn anything new, I know everything I need to know already” are arrogant and have a huge ego. The things that they don’t know, they will try to disguise to people to make them think that they do know those things.

That is what they want everyone to think. A low performing leader will not listen to anyone else who is trying to share information about a problem, or something important. They think that listening to other teammates, or others within the organisation is a waste of their time.

They already know everything, so why would they listen to others right? I have worked with many low performing leaders who had this attitude, and I’ve even experienced them saying to me that I didn’t know what I was talking about.

When I was working in Scotland as a production manager, I was advising one of the other production managers about an issue with a train engine. He was more experienced than I was, but I knew more about the problem with the engine.

I told him, “We need to isolate this engine because it had a chance of failing when going back into service.” He replied, “Tom, you don’t know what you’re talking about. The engine will be fine, I am not having it isolated, or otherwise we will get a kicking from the boss.”

So, I let him get on with it. I could have argued the case, but I let him make his decision. What happened next? The engine failed in service. So the lesson there is, listen to the person who has the most information about the problem.

The reason I believe that as a highly effective leader, we must be learning every day is, it allows our teammates, and others to be responsible in helping you. By them helping you, you are helping them increase their confidence in sharing information and communicating with others.

4. Helping Others

Especially if what they are sharing helps you and the team in becoming successful, or achieving a great result. So, it is a win/win situation for both, as you both teaching, and you are both learning at the same time. You may already know how to help your teammate build their confidence, or a new teammate with no experience.

But, allowing them to teach is the perfect way to allow them to feel responsible, with in turn will build confidence in them.

Another reason is by allowing your teammates to teach you or share information with you will help you build a relationship with them. A great trait for a highly effective leader to have is to listen. Even if you know what your teammate is talking about, still listening to them will make them feel good.

Which will help you both in building your relationship with each other. When building a relationship, you are building trust. So, by building trust, you are both more likely to share more, even more important information with each other in the future.

If you do not listen to your teammate then that will create distrust, and will be disrespectful which will break the relationship.

Highly effective leaders have a personal mission to be a role model for their teammates, and part of that is to help the team develop and grow. When their teammates are teaching and sharing information with them, they are being humble and role modelling other leadership traits.

When the team sees this, they want to do the same and follow the behaviours of the highly effective leader. When this happens, the team are all becoming highly effective leaders.

It is a snowball effect because the other teams in the engineering department will also see this, and want to model them in the same way. Highly effective leaders always remember that it starts with them, but it is not about them.

A highly effective leader will never question themselves of whether they are a role model or not. They know they are a role model, because they know they are being watched by almost everybody. The real question is, “What kind of role model am I?”

So, what kind of role model are you?

By knowing how much we don’t know, it will give us the urge to find out.

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

Check out my other articles by Clicking HERE

All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

16 thoughts on “Leaders Are Learners

  1. It is very true that your education does not end once you leave school. In fact, I believe that the education you receive after you are done with school can be a lot more important because it includes real-life experiences in anything you are doing. I appreciate your article Tom!

    1. Hi Alejandro,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found the article helpful.

      I agree with you that our education when we leave school is a lot more important. The reason being is we need to teach ourselves people skills, and how to deal with life. We are not taught any of those skills in school, college or university. There we are only taught technical skills.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. When I was in 6th grade, and yes– it was wayyy back lol!
    My homeroom teacher used to talk about leadership. Her style teaching was dividing us into groups and each will have a leader on a rotation basis.

    She always said that “A good leader is a good follower.”
    So, what you talked about in in this post “Leaders are learners” somehow reminded me of my teacher.

    And what you have said in this article are all true. To be a highly effective leader, one should always educate him/herself. Because, even if you’re the leader, it doesn’t mean you know everything. One should also have humility and be able to accept ideas from other team members.

    To be a leader is a tough job, but once you know how to cooperate, listen, and truly “work” with your teammates, then, it will lead you to success on every project you’ll have.

    1. Hi Mina,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that the article resonated with you.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with your teacher. It is very rare that we get taught leadership skills in school. In my opinion, leadership skills and people skills should be mandatory teaching in schools, colleges and universities. They should be part of the curriculum.

      Humility is essential when listening to our team member’s ideas and opinions on things.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. Great article on, leaders I believe all leaders should strive to learn more. Low leaders always try to prove their way, and never listen to anybody.

    I would feel great if my leader would of listened me out, and than if my idea was good actually used it.

    1. Hi Nataliya,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so happy that you thought this was a great article.

      I really hope you read through my other articles too because you will learn how to go to your “leader” with your ideas, and lead her/him. Anybody can be a leader, you don’t need a job title or position to be a leader. You can do this.

      If you need any help with this then please don’t hesitate to contact me.

      All the best,

      Tom

      1. So true that leaders are lifelong learners. Learning shouldn’t stop when you’re done with school or if you’re the boss – like you said, there is always something to learn.

        As a teacher, I always teach my students to apply what they have learned in class to their outside life. And that they should lead with purpose.

        Thanks for another great article!

        1. Hi Dana,

          Thank you for your comment. It is my pleasure to share another article, I’m so happy that you found it valuable.

          I completely agree that education and learning is a lifelong journey. It shouldn’t just stop at school, college or university. We should be educating ourselves every single day. That is part of what I mean by working on ourselves every single day.

          Keep learning and keep educating yourself.

          All the best,

          Tom

  4. Hi Tom,

    “They believe that they need a lifetime education that will span 60 to 70 years, and they need to keep learning every single day of their lives.” – This line in your post stuck out the most for me.

    The growth mindset is important for anyone hoping to lead a team effectively. And yes, be a great role model.

    I’m very much motivated to be working for a leader who listens than one who think he knows it all.

    Wonderful post,
    SAM

    1. Hi Sam,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found the article valuable.

      It’s great that you agree that education doesn’t stop at school, it is a lifelong process. Not many people believe this.

      I too would feel a lot more motivation and inspiration from a leader who actively listened to me and the team, rather than someone who thought he was too good for us.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. I’m so glad I had the pleasure of reading this article. As a previous business owner for over 10 years, I always tried to lead my staff the way I would want to be led. I looked at every situation from their point of view, instead of letting my ego dictate. Your article sums up all the good traits a leader should have. I think that this should be read by the heads of companies so that they can be humbled. Great work mate. I look forward to reading more of your articles.

    1. Hi Puneet,

      Thank you for your comment and your very kind words. I’m so pleased that you found the article helpful.

      Leading your team the way you want to be led is a major leadership principle that I strongly believe in. You really are a true leader.

      It would be great if this article and my other articles could be shared with other leaders and hopefully helps them.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. oh how I wish every leader in my organisation could read this!

    To be an effective leader, it is vital that you work with your team and listen to them. However, I have observed a lot of leaders where I work just trying to micro manage and make the lives of others unbearable.

    The growth mindset is vital for every leader to understand.

    1. Hi Ekufaa,

      Thank you for your comment. I would be so happy if every leader in your organisation could read this article. Feel free to share it with them.

      I totally agree that listening to your people as a leader is so important. Your people want to feel that they are being heard, and not misunderstood or ignored. Making the lives of your people unbearable just cannot happen if you want them to be their best.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. Very true. Leaders should never quit learning. In fact, the juniors are usually more tech savvy than leaders as they have the exposure to the latest things. Leaders have experience but they can surely learn a few new things from their subordinates about the new technology. If they pretend to know everything then soon they will lose the respect from their subordinates.

    1. Hi Prav,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that the article resonated with you.

      I completely agree that leaders should learn and educate themselves every day. Then what they learn, they should share with others, and especially people who they lead in their team. You are right, learning from the younger team members when it comes to tech etc. is essential for leaders to keep educating themselves too. We can all learn from each other.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

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