7 Tips for Learning as a Leader

As a child, my grandfather encouraged me to learn something new every single day, even if I didn't think it would help me immediately. He also taught me that a continuous curiosity about the world around me was far more important than achieving a high grade or winning someone else's approval. As a result, I'm fiercely passionate about the power of learning both in my own life, and in the lessons I teach others.

In times of change learners will inherit the earth.
— Eric Hoffer

To help you take advantage of the knowledge that's all around us, here are seven tips to help you learn more as a leader, so you can encourage your team to do the same.

1. Be willing to have your mind changed.

There are some leaders who only read and research sources that validate their own opinions. This strategy may offer an ego boost, but it fails to invoke the sort of internal conflict required to truly learn. As a leader, it's critical that you seek out new ideas, opinions, and viewpoints that challenge your own.

The most important learning can be unlearning!

2. Stay updated with trends in your profession.

As a member of the National Speakers Association for over 10 years, it's important to me that I stay updated with speaking and consulting trends by learning from the wealth of information the association provides. This helps me discover more powerful and innovative ways to serve my clients. Every leader should seek out the professional association in their occupation, which likely publishes a magazine, newsletter, or blog that provides valuable advice and life lessons.

Curiosity killed the cat but information brought it back.

3. Listen to podcasts.

From digital marketing to engineering, professional-grade podcasts exist in almost every single category. Podcasts are great for learning about niche topics, and they also offer the chance to hear unique perspectives from experts on challenges you face. To make time for your new podcast habit, try incorporating it into your everyday routine by listening during your commute or while hitting the gym.

Learning is not just for school.

4. Engage in mentor relationships.

Being a mentor is a great way to give back to your organization. Creating a strong relationship with a mentee offers a myriad of benefits and lessons that can't be learned anywhere else. To start, being a mentor can teach you about your leadership style and help you identify areas for your own self-improvement.

5. Attend a workshop or seminar.

Regardless of what profession we're in or how hard we work, it's critical to keep our minds sharp. Too often we let our expertise get stale, and that's when we start to lose passion for what we do daily. Attending workshops and seminars is a great way to re-energize yourself and your team.

6. Watch a TED Talk.

When it comes to curiosity and wonder, few mediums elicit the active learning like a great TED Talk can. TED's commitment to curiosity is embedded even into its slogan, which reads "ideas worth spreading." If you're new to TED Talks and need help getting started, you can try checking out their playlist of must-see TED Talks, or browse the 20 most popular TED Talks of all time.

7. Relearn a topic you once enjoyed.

We all know what it's like to discover a new skill or topic that evokes our deepest sense of wonder. But time can be a thief of this wonder, and it's easy to let our fascination fade as time passes by. One way to rekindle a passion for learning is to return to a topic you once felt deeply about. For example, you may want to brush up on a leader you studied in college. Or, perhaps you'll re-read a book that inspired a big decision in your life years ago.

What tips do you have to keep the learning going? Please add to the conversation—comment on the blog or on Twitter at @gregbellspeaks.