The Best Leaders are the Best Learners

To find their way in societal shifts, leaders cannot rely on static maps, nor can they hope to manage complexity through fixating on the details.

Reinvention and relevance in the 21st century draws on our ability to adjust our way of thinking, learning, doing and being. Leaders must get comfortable with living in a state of continually becoming. Leaders that stay on top of society’s changes do so by being receptive and able to learn. In a time where the half-life of any skill is about five years, leaders bear a responsibility to renew their perspective in order to secure the relevance of their organizations.

As we attempt to transition into a networked creative economy, we need leaders who promote learning and who master fast, relevant, and autonomous learning themselves. There is no other way to address the wicked problems facing us. If work is learning and learning is the work, then leadership should be all about enabling learning.

Personal Knowledge Mastery

Sustainable competitive advantage depends on having people that know how to build relationships, seek information, make sense of observations and share ideas through an intelligent use of new technologies. To help leaders do that, a process called Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) was developed as a lifelong learning strategy. It is a method for individuals to take control of their professional development through a continuous process of seeking, sensing-making, and sharing.

Seek is about finding things out and keeping up to date. In a world overflowing with information, we need smart filters to sort out the valuable information. It requires that we regularly evaluate and adjust the information sources that we base our thinking and decision making on. What matters today is being connected to a wise network of trusted individuals who can help us filter useful information, expose blind spots and open our eyes.

Sense is how we personalize information and use it. Sensing includes reflection and putting into practice what we learn. It is a process based on critical thinking where we weave together our thoughts, experiences, impressions and feelings to make meaning of them. By noting our ideas down, we contextualize and reinforce our learning.

Share includes exchanging resources, ideas, and experiences with our networks as well as collaborating with our colleagues. Sharing is a contributing process where we pass our knowledge forward, work alongside others, go through iterations and collectively learn from important insights and reflections. We build respect and trust by being relevant when we share to our social networks, or speak in front of a crowd.

By seeking, sensing, and sharing, everyone in an organization can become part of a learning organism, listening at different frequencies, scanning the horizon, recognizing patterns and making better decisions on an informed basis.

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