Successful leaders have many common qualities.
If we have to pinpoint the most common one, it will undoubtedly be their capacity to never stop learning.
Society has long tried to establish what makes a good leader.
Gerard Seijtsat, a professor at the Ivey Business School at Western University in Canada, has interviewed more than 30 leaders around the world.
Seijtsat tried to understand what it takes to make a truly great leader.
He came to the conclusion that good leaders are really the product of a never-ending process of skill and character development.
In other words, they learn all the time, from everything and everyone.I am now more convinced than ever that good leaders develop through constant learning about their personalities, relationships and careers, not to mention the kind of leader they want to become. - Gerard Seijtsat. Click To Tweet
Below are a few reasons why leaders should never stop learning.
1. You grow by being a learning machine
Among business leaders, there is probably no bigger proponent of constant learning than Charlie Munger, the longtime business partner of Warren Buffett and vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.
His family has described him as a “book with legs” because of his constant quest for wisdom.I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up and boy does that help,… Click To Tweet
Munger is also known for his insistence that good thinking requires the destruction of your own ideas and the consideration of new ideas.
According to Munger, “We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.”
2. Learning helps your brain to stay sharp
Furthermore, constant learning will not only make you a better leader, but it will also stave off cognitive decline.
There is ample scientific evidence that learning promotes brain health.
Dr. John N. Morris, director of social and health policy research at the Harvard-affiliated Institute for Aging Research, says: “Eventually, your cognitive skills will wane and thinking and memory will be more challenging, so you need to build up your reserve. Embracing a new activity that also forces you to think and learn and requires ongoing practice can be one of the best ways to keep the brain healthy.”
3. If you are not ahead, you are already behind
In today’s fast paced world, staying ahead of the curve is of paramount importance.
Imagine leading a company in an industry that is being upended by technology and the advent of all kinds of aggressive young competitors.
Such a leader should be open to new ideas and have the ability to learn quickly.
Refusing to change would be tantamount to surrender and ultimately lead to failure.
The world today is much more susceptible to change than it was before and leaders should adapt correspondingly.
Howard Marks, the 75-years-old founder of Oaktree Capital, says: “When I was a kid or even a young man, the world felt like a static place, nothing ever changed. We didn’t have inflation, we didn’t have changing prices, and we didn’t have a rapid technological change or communications that changed everything so rapidly”.
Indeed, “The world didn’t change and events played out in front of an unchanging backdrop, shall we say, today, the world changes every day”.
4. Lifelong learning is at the heart of leadership
Universities and business schools have long recognized that leadership is a major concept.
That is why they offer business management programs such as MBA and Masters in Management .
Some business schools are even embracing lifelong learning.
Students now have access to training, expertise, and support from faculty and fellow alumni that help them overcome challenges and seize up opportunities throughout their career.