In the constant flow of new information leaders need to keep afloat and keep up with new trends, skills, or potential threats.
If we imagine our information storage capacity as a tank – this tank is overflowing! Dealing with this is tiring! And yet we need to continue learning.
Learning is keeping our brains active and adaptive.
The power of continuous learning
Learning is the second nature of modern leaders and is a fundamental part of their professional journey.
Leadership is not static; it requires adapting to new trends, technologies, and challenges. By committing to lifelong learning, leaders can stay ahead of the curve, broaden their knowledge base, and acquire the skills necessary to lead effectively.
Continuous learning allows leaders to stay relevant and improve the decision-making process.
Barriers to Learning for Leaders
Despite the importance of continuous learning, leaders often encounter obstacles that block their progress. The three most common ones I encounter in my practice are:
How to Start?
If you want to include more learning in your work the first step will be to set your priorities based on current and future needs or interests. See the trends in your line of work, where the industry is heading, and what you will need to lead better in the future.
Then think about how much time you have available and how much time you will need. Learning should not come as a burden but as a time for yourself.
What type of learning do you need? Is it structured and formal? Or it can be flexible, creative, and less structured?
Identify your learning style. What type of learning is ideal for you? We all have preferred styles of learning. Some like reading, others listening or watching and the last one will be those who like to jump and try it then and there.
An easy way to discover your preferred learning style is by taking the following test, which pertains to your approach when faced with a self-assembling purchase of furniture.
If you acquire a furniture item that requires assembly at home, do you:
a. Dive into the packaging and attempt to put the item together without consulting the instructions?
b. Thoroughly read all the instructions before embarking on the assembly process.
c. Hand the instructions to someone else for them to read aloud to you, or read them aloud yourself?
If you are leaning more towards option A you are learning by doing and you are very kinaesthetic. If you go for B, you are someone on the visual side and prefer to learn by reading or watching. Option C means that you have a more auditory learning style and will learn well when you listen. Usually, we have a mixture of styles but there is always one that is our preferred one.
I prefer to learn in small chunks with easy-to-digest content rather to go for something big and way too structured. This concept is known as Microlearning which involves consuming small, bite-sized pieces of information at a time.
Now this is working well for me, but it does not exclude me from jumping on a more structured and academic programme one day.
8 Tips for bite-size learning that can be included in your everyday life:
Bonus tip: Think about what you need to unlearn! Unlearning is not about completely erasing the past but about updating your knowledge, beliefs, and behaviours to align with your new reality and needs. It will open space for new learning and requires an element of letting go. Make an inventory of your skills and see what is relevant and be open to challenge some of your unconscious biases.
This does not entail slowing down your productivity, but it concerns setting boundaries between personal life and work.
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Effective prioritisation can help establish the areas of focus that really matter.