Leadership and Learning

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July 17, 2014 by Rick B

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” This quote is from the speech John F. Kennedy never had a chance to give on that fateful November day in 1963. And while I don’t think all learners are leaders, research has certainly shown that the strongest leaders are incessant learners.

Was Kennedy referring to learning done personally by a leader, or the learning opportunities a good leader provides to their team? I would say it is all encompassing. The most successful leaders are on a perpetual quest for knowledge while providing those around them ongoing learning opportunities.

I actually believe that learning and leading are so intrinsically tied, there are times when it is hard to distinguish between the two. For example, when a decision needs to be made within an organization; information is gathered, consequences are considered, strengths and weaknesses are taken into account, and a determination needs to be made about whether the decision will fit with the organization’s mission and principles.  A good leader needs to look at—and learn about—each of these items to make an informed decision. They must also be ready to update their perspective on society and business so they can anticipate what’s ahead. Let me reiterate what I wrote in the previous blog, “Plan Your Work, Then Plan to Make Adjustments”  leaders must continually strive to learn new things and be able to adapt themselves—and their business— to the perpetual change experienced in every industry.

As cognitive neuroscientists continue to study the brain and how it works, one of the reoccurring themes has been that learning is critical to a person’s development and long term viability. The same can be said for a business.

Research has also shown that challenging the brain with the unfamiliar, getting out of your comfort zone, will keep your mind sharp. A brain that is challenged will continue to build new pathways that will help its owner recognize patterns, see significance and find solutions faster. A brain kept in good shape will be better at seeing the big picture—which is very useful for a leader.

Providing team members with opportunities to learn (and grow) is not only crucial to the health of a business but is also vital to them (personally) and their job satisfaction. There are surveys and articles galore that support this. And, job satisfaction has been linked to productivity, motivation, absenteeism/tardiness, accidents, mental/physical health and general life satisfaction.  In a survey by Office Team, the question was asked, “other than salary which aspect of your job is most tied to your satisfaction?”  Twenty seven percent responded with “opportunities to learn and grow,” second only to “work/life balance” at twenty eight percent.

Bottom line, incorporating learning as a cornerstone to your company is important to your health, your team members’ health, and the health of your business.

Rick Brammer is president and co-owner of United Credit Service, Inc.

Founded in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing highly effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. We offer pre-service collection solutions as well as traditional back-end collections. Visit our website at http://www.unitedcreditservice.com or call 877-723-2902.

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