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Leadership is Learning

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other” – John F. Kennedy

Learning is the most critical cornerstone in our evolution to great leadership. It is the fundamental developmental requirement we depend on for continued growth.

Dedicate yourself to a “never stop learning” philosophy. Remember learning is a lifelong endeavor and life never stops teaching us! Be ferocious in your quest for knowledge. Strive to become a more self-aware, conscious and empathetic leader. Become a mentor! If leadership is a craft, then you must be able to teach your craft in order to master it. Engage your peers and experts in your function and industry as learning resources. You don’t know what you don’t know!! Put in the work every day, your curiosity should never rest. Ask! Ask! Ask! You should have more questions than answers, do not become stagnate. Learning breeds opportunity! The promise of growth is but one aspect, the occasion to teach is true affirmation.

The skillset required to enhance a leaders’ ability to “view over the horizon” is directly affected by that leader’s ability and willingness to learn. We lead in a VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous). In the late 1990’s, the US Army coined the acronym V. U. C. A. pronounced “VooKah”, to depict the radically different military threats that arise when conditions are “Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.” But it was not until the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001 that the notion and acronym successfully transitioned into the business environment. VUCA has been adopted by strategic business leaders to describe the chaotic, turbulent and rapidly changing business environment that has become accepted as the “new normal”.

The VUCA construct can neatly encapsulate the turbulent and unpredictable nature of today’s business environment:

Volatility: The nature, speed, volume and magnitude of change that is not in a predictable pattern.

Uncertainty: This is simply the lack of predictability in issues and events in the business world.

Complexity: The recognition and acknowledgement that there are often numerous and difficult to understand causes, interdependent variables and mitigating factors.

Ambiguity: The lack of clarity about the meaning of an event or action that translates into an inability to conceptualize threats and opportunities accurately before they become erosive.

example diagram for leadership is learning - wisdom at work in VUCA times

What does this mean? The speed and fluidity in which things change must impact the way we lead. We cannot address todays issues with yesterday’s information. We must be fluid in our learning, to combat the chaos of the world in which we lead. We counter Volatility with Vision, Uncertainty with Understanding, Complexity with Clarity and Ambiguity with Agility. We learn! We approach each day with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.

Are you Intellectually Curious? It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity!