During everyone’s journey in their professional career you will work with and come across many people. Most are caring, supportive and truly good people. Some may even be lifelong learners. A few are leaders that develop other people/organizations and strive for excellence. Their greatest gift is that they focus on developing others. This year the COVID pandemic has revealed true leadership and who the transformational leaders are in schools. If you are fortunate, you may have the chance to work with one of these leaders or have opportunities to connect with them through social media. If this occurs, learning from great leaders and their experiences is one of the greatest opportunities and gifts someone can be given. In this blog we discuss “How Do You Learn From Great Leaders” so not only are you developing but learning from your mentor or leaders beyond just knowing them.
First it is important to know that everyone has opportunities to grow, learn and develop. It is a choice, a mindset and a passion to strive for excellence. This occurs daily and growth occurs more often from failures than successes. As a result of their reflection and passion to succeed, leaders themselves learn new skills and practices by:
- Resources – This would include learning from books, social media like Twitter, FB and podcasts. Many leaders pursue these resources daily to stretch their thinking and strive to improve.
- Experiences – The experiences that leaders go through provide learning opportunities and activities where they apply their thinking. They also then reflect upon those experiences for greater motivation and learning opportunities.
- Learning from other people – Most leaders started like other typical professionals with a desire to do their best. While most people fall back to average over time, some are fortunate to have Mentors and as a result, they learn from other people. This is important as the mentors or leaders demonstrate the actions and behaviors of leadership. The individual also has the opportunity to not only observe what they model but ask the right questions to learn from their perspective.
We will focus on what types of things should you ask your mentor or leaders. This allows the greatest gain and insight that leads to deeper conversations and growth in learning.
Here are the Questions to ask a leader/mentor you work with:
- What are your passions that you spend your time on?
- This insight will allow you to see most leaders have passions that show a work/life balance and keep them grounded.
- You will notice that they have a focus and are intentional with their time.
- How has failure shaped you?
- This will allow you to remember that most often people fail, not succeed, but from these failures is the greatest opportunity for growth. Please recognize that “Failures do not define you, they refine you.”
- It is how the leaders respond from the failures that allows insight into their skill set and why they are successful.
- Hearing their experiences will show you how leaders are vulnerable and willing to admit failures but they view that as a learning opportunity.
- Who do you know as a leader that I should connect with to learn from as well?
- This will show you why being connected is so vital as everyone learns from others. This may broaden your network as well.
- What experiences as a leader do you suggest that I also consider as a way to build leadership experience?
- In this question, it is important to not focus on the title/position but what the experience provided for the person. In other words, specific jobs have different tasks but typically revolve around leadership traits like Leading people, making decisions, and communication.
- Focus on how those experiences developed the skills they learned and now demonstrate.
- How did you develop others and express gratitude to others?
- Developing others is the backbone of leadership and learning how they developed their employees lends new ideas and different perspectives.
- Learning how they appreciate their employees by adding value to their work provides insight into how they care about people.
- What are your core values that you have used to guide your professional work and how did you arrive at those?
- All leaders have core values that guide their work and is their compass they use to make the hard decisions. Those conversations will help further lend you perspective and allow you to refine your core values that fit your style of leadership.
Learning from leaders is a great opportunity that no one should pass up without having a conversation with them to learn and develop oneself. True leadership occurs by intentional efforts when you work extremely hard to improve your own learning and that leads to an improved school. In this instance, to improve yourself you must be intentional to admit you need support and ask a mentor if you can spend time learning from them. By reflecting upon “How do you learn from Great Leaders”, you can self-analyze if you are spending efforts towards the important and right work. Leaders must continually identify how to see the current reality and prioritize how to be efficient but yet effective. It is never too late to change or adapt to create something better. We owe that to our students and staff that we serve.
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