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June 2, 2009

Always be Learning

by mikediliberto

People tend to either be listening or taking at at any given time.  Something that I have noticed recently is that one of the most common traits in people with true leadership skills is that they are always in learning mode.  It seems especially prevalent these days that everyone is racing to call themselves an expert on a range of topics (with “social media” being the worst offender, but there are plenty of others), but I fail to see a rush of people looking to pay for this expertise.

(sidenote:  if you actually hired a “social media expert”, please let me know;  I have yet to even see an ad that reads “Looking for social media expert.  Must twitter constantly, have lots of followers, have unhealthy relationship with iPhone.  HASHTAG ABUSERS NEED NOT APPLY”)

One common thread that runs through many successful members of the business community is that they never stop learning.  Before you accuse me of having an inappropriate sample set, I assure you that I am not just speaking about observations of my MBA class, but many people that I have met in my personal and professional life as well.  Those that are the best leaders are the ones that are always listening and analyzing and if there is one trait that has been developed over the past few years of grad school it has been my ability to slow down, listen and most importantly, ask questions.  Jim Collins, the Auther of “Good to Great” recently said that leaders are not the ones that have the answers, they are the ones that ask the right questions.

The simple irony is, once you call yourself an expert you now have incentive to stop learning; the best leaders however, have the opposite trait.  It seems that the best leaders are open to learning all the time, living the phrase “you learn something new every day”.

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