by Joanna Barclay
It takes courage for leaders to start a journey of lifelong learning that is brought about by cultural transformation. It is challenging, exciting, and stimulating all at the same time. One leader told me, if he had known before starting the journey, how much personal transformation it would take, he might never have begun the journey. However, he also added, it had been the most gratifying and impactful journey he and his organization had ever been on, and given the choice now, he would never turn back!
“Lifelong learning” as a management value is an effective tool for team building. My experience is that managers who promote learning for themselves and with their staff develop enormous loyalties and increase performance. This is particularly important for global corporations who are expanding their interests beyond their borders.
In a recent survey, 93% of millennials said they would stay with an organization if they could see a lifelong learning path. Meanwhile, only 34% of management surveyed said they were actively developing a lifelong learning path for staff. This is a significant disconnect causing low retention and low productivity.
It takes courage because leaders must set the example and be willing to try new things and deal with the challenges that will be uncovered in the process of discovery. Having courage brings with it energy to learn new things and try out new behaviors. It also gives people confidence to face their fears.
It take courage to face your fears. How many of us hold ourselves back from making major changes in life because of the fear of change. We need to be self-aware to recognize when the ego is creating problems for us. This can show up in dysfunctional ways that may be limiting our performance and causing more stress than the situation calls for. Knowing our personal values, our strengths and weakness, is a good starting point for developing self-awareness and beginning the journey of a lifelong learner.
Five Tips for Lifelong Learning:
Accessible: Be available to your people with an open door policy. Be open to listening and hearing what they have to say.
- Tip: Provide monthly one-hour one-on-one meetings with your managers or staff where opportunities for growth can be discovered. Then carry out actions to show that you heard and are actively listening.
Diplomatic (Facilitative Leadership): Have the ability to bring together different points of view and strong personalities.
- Tip: Organize regular staff Open-Dialogue sessions that bring people together face-to-face, to share and exchange ideas.
Ethical: What I don’t want others to do to me, why should I do to others?
- Tip: Treat others as you would like to be treated. This is the basic line of ethics. This sense of awareness comes from within.
Rational and Emotional: Lead and manage with the head and heart, the emotions and values of people, and be aware of the impact you have on their lives.
- Tip: Schedule regular dialogue on personal and organizational values in action, and how they affect the productivity of the organization.
Self-awareness – Recognize the need and have the ability to change yourself as well as the organization. It’s not just about producing results but effectively engaging people in the process of change.
- Tip: Provide the opportunity for people to participate in self-development programs such as the TLEX Program.
Lifelong learning begins with getting to know who you are. Our values and attitudes (mind-set) have an impact on how we see the world. We all have limiting values and attitudes, and positive values and attitudes. The power in doing an Organizational or Leadership Values Assessment is the awareness it generates for developing what we want more of in ourselves and the workplace. The effects of limiting behaviours begin to diminish as soon as we recognize and own them.
The benefit of accepting one’s limiting values is an inner sense of self-acceptance, honesty, and higher self-esteem. When I know my limitations, I am less sensitive to negative opinions others may have about me. A self-honest person is less prone to having their feelings hurt or having a “bone to pick” with others. As a result, one feels less vulnerable, safer, and more secure. This is true for organizations as a whole and for leaders.
When people value lifelong learning they are giving back to the organization as much as they are receiving. In having the courage to try new things, they achieve more. In achieving more they increase their self-esteem. This has the effect of increasing the life force energy in the workplace culture, and this is where high performance and productivity really begins!
You can learn more about Joanna at her Website.