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  • Writer's pictureAndy Hind

Previous Leadership Blog - Leadership as a learning process

The most effective, successful leaders might just share one essential trait - a thirst for greater knowledge and understanding . One of the highest leadership virtues must surely be that of WISDOM and those leaders who are committed to being the best versions of themselves will seek to gain greater wisdom...continually.

As a leader, what definition of the word 'success' do you work from and what are the processes, activities or tasks that you must invest time in to ensure you achieve success...based on this definition? How many leaders would place their own learning and development in those top 3 processes, tasks and activities? If you would've placed your own leadership learning and development in your top 3 processes or tasks, how much time are you currently investing in this?Successful leaders recognise the importance of learning as an everyday task. They never stop seeking out learning opportunities because they recognise that they are essential in understanding how:

  • To lead themselves better: Great leaders understand that to lead others better, they must learn to lead themselves better.

  • To improve their level of performance: When you are leading a group of people, a certain level of performance and output is expected of you. Great leaders have a knack for taking up risky tasks to challenge themselves and better their own performance. The best learning often comes from the most difficult tasks and that’s why successful leaders don’t mind taking them up.

  • To stay up to date: Whether or not you are a leader, it’s essential to keep yourself updated and to stay relevant in the current context. High-impact leaders will always ask “what’s next?” to grow themselves, their organisations, and their people.

  • To learn from the experiences of others: You don’t always have to make mistakes to learn from them. Smart ones have the wisdom to extract lessons from the experience of others. That said, they don’t shy away from sharing the lessons learned from their own mistakes with others.

'Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other' - J F Kennedy

As a leader, just take some to ask yourself in which ways are you wiser today than you were a few months ago about:

  • yourself, as a leader, and your leadership

  • what a successful leader does that makes them such a successful leader

  • the leadership practices that have the greatest impact

  • how a leader embeds a strong, professional culture within the team they lead

Exceptional leaders are always seeking out ways to gain greater wisdom whether that's by connecting and engaging with other, like-minded leaders, attending leadership development programmes, reading or simply, but perhaps most crucially, reflecting on their everyday experiences.

A remarkable leader is someone who is continually seeking knowledge and growth and who is committed to constant learning. It makes them knowledgeable, trustworthy, and reliable.

When a leader is committed to the process of increasing their own leadership wisdom, they must be prepared to ask themselves...continually... a range of worthwhile but challenging questions. These questions are asked around three essential concepts:

  • The Concept of Self - How does the individual view themselves as a leader?

  • The Concept of Role - How does the individual view the role of leader and the process of leadership?

  • The Concept of Context - How does the individual view the team/organisation and it's future?

But what, for you, are 5 worthwhile questions for each concept? 5 questions that a leader should never stop asking?

Wisdom is not increased by asking these questions once, but rather by asking them repeatedly. By coming back to them over and over again and by asking them continually, the leader's knowledge and understanding of each will expand and strengthen. Here are a few examples:

The Concept of Self:

  • What standards do I set for myself, as a leader?

  • Why these?

  • How do I hold myself accountable to these standards?

  • In which ways are my attitudes, behaviours and actions a direct influence of those standards?

  • In which ways do I use my colleagues to support me with the accountability process?

The Concept of Role:

  • What is the job our leader really about?

  • What is the core purpose of a leader?

  • What is it that a successful leaders does that makes them successful?

  • How does being a leader differ from engaging in leadership?

  • What has influenced my perceptions about what the job of leader entails?

The Concept of Context:

What is my vision for the team/organisation?


How do I identify specific priorities for improvement?

What processes do I go through to ensure I identify the right priorities?

What is my gut instinct about the agenda that faces our team/organisation over the next twelve months?

Many leaders are so busy, they miss the valuable learning opportunities that accompany every single experience. Having an experience and learning are not the same thing and leaders will only learn if they take the time to slow down and reflect on the experiences they have every single day..

‘We do not learn from experience…We learn from reflecting on experience’

(John Dewey)

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