In our study of companies that have enjoyed enduring, sustained success over more than a decade, a number of common traits were identified. Among them is the commitment to continuous learning.
Recently, I had the opportunity to facilitate a group of more than a dozen rising professionals representing some of most successful companies in the industry. This day long leadership development workshop brought together a talented group of up-and-coming executives, each of whom have a high level of intellectual curiosity and an openness to learning. As the day moved along, I noticed another common characteristic. Notwithstanding their experience and intelligence, they are not complacent nor are they satisfied with their accumulated knowledge. Instead, they are looking for ways to increase their understanding of leadership, management, and of better ways to do things.
Some years ago, I noticed many of these same characteristics in CEO’s and owners of these leading industry companies. It was not by accident that I would see them at top management conferences, peer group meetings, and any number of business-related workshops, seminars, and events. They realize the importance of getting out and finding out. New ideas, emerging technology, refining, and further developing their own leadership skills are enduring objectives they pursue with commitment and purpose. That these same traits are being passed to the next generation of business leaders is no surprise.
I asked one highly accomplished executive what motivated him to attend, especially since it seemed that at times, given his experience and knowledge of the subject at hand, he could be leading the module. His answer is a source of insight and inspiration.
“Whenever I think I have learned all there is to know about a given subject, I find out there is even more to know. This is especially true of subjects that matter most to me and my career. If there is a way to add to my professional portfolio which adds to the value I bring to my organization, I want to take advantage of it. It’s always exciting to learn more and to share my experiences with other like-minded, active learners.”
Here’s a question. What percentage of your company’s total operating budget is dedicated to continuous learning and professional development? What would happen if more time and resources were moved in this direction? Is it just coincidence that the most successful organizations make professional development a core competency?
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