Do leaders still want to learn?

Do leaders still want to learn?

I find this such an interesting question.

I know they need to continue to learn because the world is forever changing.

I know they attend courses, conferences and workshops which is evidence of learning.

But in my experience I often wonder.

If I ask a group of leader who would like to improve their golf game for example.

All hands point to the sky.


I recently gave a talk at an executive MBA class in one of their final subjects.

Just before I went out the professor said — be careful they are a cynical bunch.

And sure enough they were.

Not all to be sure – but a significant group.

Here are some initial thoughts on why learning may stop for some leaders (I welcome any feedback you have):

Perhaps it was me.

Perhaps they were tired of so-called experts talking about their various topics.

Or they were tired and just wanted to finish the course.

But I wonder if there is something deeper at play.

Perhaps leaders reach a certain point in their careers where they are expected to know everything.

I remember working with a management consultant and the last thing he said to me when we walked in to see the client was — I hope they don’t ask me something I cannot answer.

I on the other hand, would welcome such a question.

It would hopefully make me think, reflect and learn.

Perhaps it is time.

Leaders are busy and time-poor so the thought of cramming new learning is not possible.

Perhaps it is ego.

If you have reached a certain level it is not without a certain amount of ego.

So the idea of learning form others is a blow to your self-image.

Perhaps it is their mindset

Learning for some is seen as something that is done at college not as a life-long journey.

Perhaps there is just too much to learn.

I know this feeling.

Everything is being disrupted so everything you think you know is now up for grabs.

Perhaps it has a cultural dimension.

When I travel to China for example, the leaders are hungry to learn.

When I am in my home country I don’t quite get the same response.

When your number 2 — you need to learn better and faster than the number 1 (USA).

Lastly — perhaps learning has stopped being fun.

It may well be that the way educators, coaches, mentors, speakers and authors etc are presenting their material is the problem (I include myself here).

Maybe we need to develop more engaging ways to present out material.

What do you think?

Have you stopped learning?

If so why?


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