Focus on continual learning and unlearning. There are almost no jobs left that will remain the same over time and the demands of leaders and managers are continuing to evolve. Pause and think about the changes in the past year alone. Leaders and managers that are successful today are constantly learning and developing themselves. The problem with successful adults is that our brains are constructed to help us prove ourselves right. And the more successful we are, the more energy we spend on doing this. But the things that served us well last year or even last week, might not be the best approach anymore based on all the change around us.
Really great leaders and managers today have the following characteristics in common. They:
- Like to master things
- They are motivated and driven to constantly get better, knowing full well that they will not, and should not, be perfect.
- Are observant and flexible
- They can consider multiple perspectives to create general guidelines that help them make sense of what is around them
- Focus on problem solving
- They consider current issues from the perspective of making things better versus blaming or worrying
- Their thinking is characterized by a balance of the ability to visualize what might or could be, and an effective day to day approach to get the right things done
- They can distill complexity
- Are self aware
- They are constantly working to become even more aware of their own intentions as well as their impact on others
- They admit mistakes and learn from them
- Are specific, direct and candid with others
- They expose any agenda they have and use good listening skills to really hear what others have to say rather than simply planning their next response
- Have a broad range of interests
- They are genuinely curious about others
- They are able to make comparisons easily while seeing and appreciating the complexity in the world
- Think strategically
- They are able to see, understand and appreciate the current state as well as see possibilities
- When dealing with today’s issues, they operate from a broad, long term perspective balanced with a current state understanding. They do not take a narrow view or focus only on short term implications
- They are able to gather information and make decisions in a timely manner
- Are action oriented
- They get things done, making timely decisions
In today’s world, there is no one right way to do all of the things we talk about as important for success. There are advantages and disadvantages to almost every approach a leader or manager takes. Make sure you are making informed choices and are clear on the trade-offs. And make sure you have ways to learn and unlearn a little each day. Don’t assume that learning and development thing is only good for others!
Twenty five years ago, a core management secret was reprimanding employees. Just imagine if you had not unlearned that approach to leading and managing! And the world is only going to get faster and more complex, so pause and consider “What if…I am wrong, there is another way, someone else might look at this differently…” a few times each day. You will be amazed at how something that takes only ten seconds of your time can save your countless hours in not having to do it over instead of doing it differently/right the first time.