Lead to Learn

My daughter-in-law sat face to face with my granddaughter, Macie, on the couch.  Macie was around four at the time and had had a rough day, apparently making poor choices.  Her mom was calm, rational, and focused, explaining the seriousness of Macie’s choices and their consequences.  It was clearly an important parenting moment.

She finished her comments and asked,

“Macie, do you understand?”

Macie looked at her and in total calmness and with no mischief intended said,

“Mommie, will you hold me upside down?”

 Macie was not getting the message.

As leaders, sometimes we think we have it all figured out only to realize that those on our teams see it differently.  In a multi-generational workplace (or even a seemingly homogenous one), we can’t assume that one size of leadership fits all. Every person is different, hears messages in their own way, and has unique things to offer.  To lead a team effectively, we need a learning mentality.

We learn from our colleagues, our teams, and our experiences.  As soon as we think we have all the answers, we are at risk.

At risk of missing key messages.

At risk of shutting down ideas.

At risk of missing changes in the marketplace, the environment, etc.

At risk of failing.

Here are a few ways to approach every day with a learning mentality, regardless of your seniority or position.

  1. Start every day asking, “Where might I have an opportunity to learn today?”  Be open to those learning opportunities, and alert to the fact that they may come from unexpected places.
  2. Ask more questions than you answer – not in an accusatory, interrogating way, but with curiosity.
  3. Invite ideas, then withhold judgment. Every word should be edifying when you’re encouraging ideas.
  4. Think deeply about subjects. Go beyond the superficial and dig in.  Encourage others to do the same.
  5. Take time to reflect on what is going well and where you can do things differently. Set aside a specific time to do so.
  6. Get feedback/ input regularly and from multiple sources. I heard about a CEO that turned down the opportunity to be mentored by another very successful CEO.  His ego wouldn’t allow it.  Unfortunately for him, his career ended abruptly and poorly several years later from a blind spot created by his ego.
  7. Check in with people who are very different from you. Get to know them.  Whether millennials or baby boomers, they’re all individuals with something you can learn.
  8. Invest in your professional and personal development. Not only will it give you new skills, it will re-invigorate you and get you motivated.

Whether in staff meetings, town halls, or conversations waxing eloquently, someone may be silently wondering, “Will you hold me upside down?”. A learning mindset allows you to keep your perspective wide as a leader and speak effectively to your team.

Photo: Android Boss/ Shutterstock

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Susan Hodge

Susan Hodge

Susan Hodge created Women Leading Together in order to provide one-on-one executive coaching, seminars, workshops, and coaching circles to help career women move forward to create fulfilling professional lives. Visit our website for upcoming programs, articles, and resources to advance your career.


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