One of the keys to staying sharp as a leader is continuing to learn. Almost all of us are grateful when the days of formal education are behind us, (and not so grateful about student loan debt!) but that does not mean education stops. If you are in a leadership role in any capacity, or strive to be in the future, continuing to learn new skills is critical. Your new skills don’t even have to be in the financial services industry, although intentional career development is also important. The process of learning is what keeps you sharp as a leader. Here is why:
1. Learning gives you a broader perspective. When you choose to gain new knowledge, you also gain a new way of looking at the world. Your new knowledge can help you approach the world in an inter-disciplinary manner, and enhances your critical thinking skills. You may gain lessons from learning art, reading a book on an unfamiliar subject, or picking up a hobby that requires attention to detail. Those lessons may cause you to approach a problem in your organization differently. If you take a class or learn in a group environment, you are likely to meet new connections in the process of learning. Making friends in different industries can be a tremendous resource, especially when you have an unfamiliar problem you need to tackle or need a referral for expertise outside of your industry.
2. Learning keeps you humble. The process of learning involves being a beginner again, or learning from someone with more knowledge than you, or both. Learning a new skill for the first time, whether it be web design or cooking, can be frustrating and humbling as you realize you are not good at something unfamiliar. To learn, you have to absorb knowledge from an expert or through repetition and practice. Easily recalling the feeling of not being good at something is a good frame of reference, especially if your role involves guiding other people in the process of career development. It also builds confidence in your ability to learn new things when you see your skill set grow in an area that was not previously a strength.
3. Learning from others is necessary to drive results. If you are working with other people, you will excel most when you are willing to learn. If you want to build or be part of strong team, it requires understanding where your colleagues are experts. A good team is willing to learn from others who know more, and let each individual shine in their area of expertise. It will often produce better results. Plus, people are more willing to help and teach people who have an attitude of willingness to learn.
Learning adds value in both tangible and intangible ways. Make time outside of your career for that new hobby or the book you have been meaning to read!