I completely agree with the notion that leaders must always be learning new things. If a leader is not learning, he or she is not leading – and certainly not innovating.
Of course there are many ways to continually feed your mind: reading, seminars, online courses, going back to school, etc. How are you feeding your mind, and what have you learned this week? Here’s something to consider:
To find their way in societal shifts, leaders cannot rely on static maps, nor can they hope to manage complexity through fixating on the details. To do so would be to fall into the trap described by Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares in their 1946 short story “On Exactitude in Science,” in which empire cartographers draw up a map so detailed – the scale is a mile to a mile – that it ends up covering the whole territory and leads to the downfall of the empire. It’s a story of absurdity and unintended consequences, surely two things leaders today can appreciate.
Reinvention and relevance in the 21st century instead draw on our ability to adjust our way of thinking, learning, doing and being. Leaders must get comfortable with living in a state of continually becoming, a perpetual beta mode. Leaders that stay on top of society’s changes do so by being receptive and able to learn. In a time where the half-life of any skill is about five years, leaders bear a responsibility to renew their perspective in order to secure the relevance of their organizations.
As we attempt to transition into a networked creative economy, we need leaders who promote learning and who master fast, relevant, and autonomous learning themselves. There is no other way to address the wicked problems facing us. If work is learning and learning is the work, then leadership should be all about enabling learning. In a recent Deloitte study, Global Human Capital Trends 2015, 85% of the respondents cited learning as being either important or very important. Yet, according to the study, more companies than ever report they are unprepared to address this challenge.