Today’s world of fast-paced innovation and change often necessitate rapid changes, adaptability, and agility. This is evident in changes to technology and software inside many organizations, but often overlooked when it comes to the most important resource in any company, people. As a leader inside an organization, it is crucial that you be able to adapt and move forward at the same pace as the organization and the world around you, adopting a mindset of continuous learning and innovation.
As a manager and leader, your role involves not only guiding your team or teams but also setting a good example, bringing new ideas and concepts to the team, and using every resource to build on the productivity and value of the people you are leading. Continuous learning is an important strategy for your, your team’s, and your organization’s success.
More than Just a Degree
While degrees are valuable and essential in most business management environments, they often aren’t enough to set you apart. Nearly half of all millennials have a minimum of a bachelor degree, which is often centered around information which is subject to change. Good management involves understanding new processes, leadership methods, and tools as they come in, mastering software and tools made available to you by the organization, and hopefully having at least a basic understanding of the technical work being completed by your team. This can require a significant amount of learning, including familiarizing yourself with the technical requirements and capabilities of graphic design, coding, and other technical skills if you don’t have that already.
An Attitude of Continuous Learning
Self-help expert W. Clement Stone recommends studying and/or reading anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours per day to foster a mental attitude of continuous learning and adaption. Continuing to challenge the brain with new information and input, to think, and practice memorization and learning techniques works to keep your thinking skills sharp, which will also aid your performance in the workplace.
Continuing to learn works to foster neural and synaptic plasticity in the brain. This means that the brain is more adaptable, more open to change, and more easily takes on new ideas and tasks. Continuous learning will put you in a mindset where you can approach new ideas with natural and intuitive creativity and flexibility, where new tools and ways of working are challenging and interesting, and where you can quickly change how or where you work to be productive. This will pay off as you move into the workplace where changing software, multicultural environments, flex work, and even remote workers are all becoming the norm.
Today’s workplaces are diverse, often multilingual, and may even span multiple offices in several countries. Learning will help you to develop adaptability, to move more easily between cultures, and to add value in any environment which you are in.
Modern technology and software change extremely rapidly. Keeping up requires constantly learning and doing new things. Trends and automation are continuing to replace certain skillsets, while creating a demand for others. Evaluating your work environment and the skills likely to change and adapt based on technological and business trends will give you a good idea of what you should be learning and why to stay relevant. This also applies when your current role is phased out or you move to another company, which may value new and different things.
For example, automation is a massive change coming to nearly every industry, and one that will become a significant economic force by 2020. Learning how it will affect your time and priorities and determining what will be necessary as your job moves forward into this new environment will help you to set priorities for learning so that your skills continue to remain relevant and valuable inside your organization.
Constantly learning will make you feel accomplished, more able to take on new ideas and things, and therefore more confident, even in emergency situations. While this won’t happen immediately, you will see it over time.
People are the most valuable resource in any organization, and as a manager, your leadership and guidance influence that. Learning and continuing to grow yourself will help you to be a better manager, not only by improving your skillset and helping you to develop and move forward while potentially inspiring others in your team to do the same. At the same time, it’s important to recognize that not all learning needs to be job related. Reading, learning crafts and hobbies, studying how processes work inside your organization, and nearly any other type of learning will foster the cognitive benefits of adaptability and agility, helping you to fit more easily into multicultural environments, to understand and change with your organization and the world, and to continue to adapt.