Nov 30, 2010

Leadership skills, learning and confidence

It was a Q&A session of leadership seminar a bank organized for local clients. An owner of a company was asking presenter: ''Why would I want to train and develop my people if they could go and get work in another company?''

I hope you don't work for guy like this, and that you don't share his attitude. There was one answer I wish I could give:

If you are a business owner or see yourself as a leader you don't want to ''keep'' your people by making sure they stay behind, not letting them learn, grow, be creative and have the opportunity to improve your business.

As a leader you learn about yourself, world around us, your employees/followers, new technologies, communication, trends, anything that can benefit you and your or organization or give you an edge over competitors. You even have to learn just to remain in business.

In order to have strong teams who can deliver you have to let them learn. You can not and should not produce all the best ideas and work yourself.

Maybe you are learning more than anyone because your talent theme from Strengths Finder is Learner® (People strong in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.)

Learner or not, chances are you already learn much more than you ever imagined you would have to. Nobody knows exactly what the world will be like in 10 years. We'll soon use technologies that yet have to be invented and have jobs that don't yet exist.

''I was an authority on model trains when I was a kid. Today the 11-year old is an authority on a digital revolution that is changing business, commerce, government and learning. This has never happened before.'' described previous point Don Tapscott (Chairman of nGenera Insight) in Ericsson Business Review this year.

I dare to say I have learned more relevant things at work then during my studies. I am not currently using much I learned 17 years ago. Not only because I ended up as management and leadership consultant, author and coach, (instead of engineer) but because there was so much theory, formulas I didn't need, or systems and technology that seem like Stone Age today.

Best success advice from Bob Mc Donald, Procter&Gamble CEO - Never stop learning.

''The ability to keep learning will lead you to success in business and personal life. It’s forcing yourself to learning new things even when it’s uncomfortable.'' advises McDonald.

(Bob McDonald started in P&G as a brand manager 30 years ago. Today P&G markets 300 brands in more than 16 countries. There must have been be a lot of learning involved.)

McDonald further explains, ''Always try learning new things. Never stop learning. Even if you are young today and you laugh at your manager because you are on Facebook and he is not, the question is when you get old what is going to be your Facebook.

Single secret that differentiate people in P&G who are successful from those who are not successful is learning.''

Jack Welch, retired CEO of GE: Skills give you leadership confidence

MIT Sloan ( Dean Richard Schmalensee and honorary MIT Chairman Alex D'Arbeloff moderated the discussion, posing questions to Welch and fielding queries from the audience. At one point, Schmalensee asked Welch what advice he had specifically for MIT students.

''Building skills'', Welch replied, ''is key to building confidence, which, in turn, is absolutely essential to leadership.''

Recently I heard that we are living in the economy where you can ask ''What do I know that can make me a living?'' instead of only ''What can I DO to make me a living?'' And it made me put down on paper few things I know, or am learning now that can be alternative careers, or skills someone would pay for.

Have you ever thought of this and do you have specialist knowledge (outside of your own job) that you could offer, or that could possibly make you a living?

What skills you learned gave you additional confidence and improved your leadership potential or success?

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