Lifelong Learners are Long Lasting Leaders


In Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, he envisioned a “Government of the people, by the people, for the people," and then said it "shall not perish from the Earth”. That statement is (in principle) as true today as it ever was. There is a timeless truth in those words that is at the very heart of sound leadership. In the course of history, the leadership pendulum has been swinging from side to side, passing through every philosophical leadership approach that has ever been conceived, for as long as people were on the earth. We’ve come a long way over the years, learning some valuable lessons along the way. Periodically that leadership pendulum returns to models that utilize the best of team efforts, integrating the valuable lessons of the past with each subsequent pass. I believe that the models which capitalize on the synergistic dynamics of team leadership is best for several reasons; provided the organization can have a solid personal and team development process in place. People Will Always be an Organization’s Greatest Asset. John C. Maxwell said; “By far the greatest obstacle to success that I see in others is a poor understanding of people. A while back the Wall Street Journal published an article on the reasons that executives fail. At the top Thomas Jefferson once said “If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done.” I also believe if you want to be doing things you’ve never done, you must be willing to become what you’ve never been. Continued growth in leadership requires a lifestyle of continual change. Some leaders who experience amazing growth in their companies, and in themselves, can fall prey to the idea that what got them there will keep them there. When it comes to good character, this is true. Unfortunately, if they’re relying on their past accomplishments to keep them there, the rest of the world will be passing them by. There will always be bright new leaders emerging on the scene, with new innovative ideas that will challenge the status quo. We may not like what we see, or agree with methodologies, but, we had better be aware of global changes when they’re on the horizon. Invading My Space You should never hit the snooze button when life gives you a wakeup call. - Robliano Do you remember “Myspace?” Around 2006/2007, it was at the top of social media. Yet, in a short time, they found themselves losing both users and visitors by the millions. It seemed that a combination of poor administration and a lack of innovation helped to hasten its demise. The very organization that blazed the trail for a new social media platform, became blissfully unaware of the global changes that were on the horizon. Failure to understand the current trends and possibly underestimating the rapidly emerging Facebook (which was already drawing attention globally), the once social media powerhouse “Myspace” soon became an empty space. Lifelong Learning may not have been a priority with Myspace, as it was, and still is with Facebook. Facebook’s think-tank had a better grasp of social networking, and a much better interface to make it work. It simply produced a better platform driven by a more inquisitive team of innovators. What Myspace understood about social media was certainly revolutionary, I believe they underestimated how quickly it would all evolve. A serious commitment to lifelong learning would have helped them stay ahead of the curve. Facebook’s wherewithal to see what’s ahead, and understand what it means, while developing the capability to implement it, is a huge part of their success. Facebook seems to have adopted a learning curve psychology as a part of their core values. Now that’s what I call making lifelong learning intentional! Lifelong Learners are Always Reinventing Themselves to Stay Current “The more up-to-date the information, the more valuable it is.” - Katie Jacobs Stanton My takeaway from the experience of Myspace is to: 1) Revisit your core values regularly – Are they timeless or dated? 2) Know when changes are needed – What needs to change, what does that require? 3) Do you have a protocol for adapting to changes, and will it see you through each stage? 4) Become globally aware of current trends - study them before they visit you 5) Learn from the successes and failures of others, and don’t repeat the failures 6) Implement what you’re learning as soon as possible 7) Allow your own experiences and that of others to educate you and your team 8) Always be mindful to pass on what you’ve learned to those you are mentoring 9) Finally, never buy into the myth that you have arrived

*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***

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