However, there are leaders everywhere who do hide, like ostriches burying their heads in the sand, when their teams are under-performing or when challenges arise.
Leaders who want to blame others, the economy or the market for their team’s lack of success. Or “leaders” who have a title, but shouldn’t, because they aren’t leading anyway. Such leaders aren’t merely avoiding their responsibilities, they are also preventing their own learning and growth.
The value of ongoing learning
You can’t hide if you want your team to succeed. You must be willing to recognize your role in your team’s success, and you must care enough to work hard and put in the extra effort. That means you can’t stop seeking opportunities to learn.
I fully believe that to become the leader you are capable of becoming you must be a continual learner. Frankly, the work of leadership is too complex to learn in one workshop or by reading one (or even a few) books. The leader who wants to learn will do what he or she needs to do, investing time, effort and money in building skills and increasing knowledge.
I believe leaders should want to learn for their own benefit (and when they do, their learning will be most effective). Learning makes you a stronger leader, better employee and person, and more. Still, there is another, perhaps even more pragmatic reason, why you can’t avoid learning: You don’t have perfect teams or team members.
Lead by example
I’ve met leaders who were proud of their teams’ performance, but I have never met a leader who thought his or her team had reached its full potential.
Most leaders, even the ostrich leaders, want their team members to grow, develop and improve in their current jobs. Don’t you? Then create learning opportunities for them. But what is the best way for you to encourage, coach and influence others to be learners? Consider this example.
As a parent, what is the best way to get your kids to eat vegetables? Eat vegetables in front of them, right? You can tell them, beg them, even bribe them, but if no broccoli ever enters your mouth, your kids aren’t going to fall for any of those tactics. If you want your kids to be readers, you turn off the TV and pick up a book. If you want them to pick up after themselves, you do the same. Your example is the most powerful influencer there is with your children, and anyone else you lead. So if you want your employees to be learning and growing, they must see you growing and learning too.
It’s time to take your head out of the sand. It is time to start leading … by example. It’s time to start learning.
Photo Credit: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/ostrich-1-1403284