Many of us are knowledge workers – trading, creating, and building ideas and concepts for a living. We are paid to think for a living – yet fill our calendars and days with tasks and meetings, leaving little time for learning. If we are honest, we spend more time looking at financials and project plans than coaching our staff on their development. If we are brutally honest, we spend even less time on our own development. John F Kennedy said “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. So let’s lead a new path and Make Learning a Part of Your Daily Routine through questioning, connecting, and unlearning.”
Questioning. Improv troupes use “yes and” questions to open up new ideas and possibilities in impromptu situations. Practice phrases like “How might we?” and “What would happen if” open our minds to new ideas and create space for others to share new approaches. Question your current processes and practices, and ask the team to experiment with new ideas. Experiments are designed to help us learn – whether they work out or not. Celebrate learning from successes and failures equally and you will expand possibilities for yourself and your team.
Connecting. “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – Dr. Wayne Dyer. Collaboration is more important than ever in our new way of working. It might sound counterintuitive, but a good place to start connecting is with those you find challenging. Enter into the discussion wondering what you could learn from their point of view. Meet with someone with a different life experience than yours (race, age, gender, etc.) that has experienced the world differently than you, and open your eyes to new perspectives. Create connection sessions with your team to share skills, learnings, articles, and/or process improvement ideas. Creating a space for everyone to learn and share builds knowledge and personal connections.
Unlearning. As leaders we often rely on our tried and true toolkit to solve problems. Asking yourself “How could I” can help move you from a routine rut to a new approach. Commit to unlearning two habits that are holding you back this month. Tell your boss and trusted peer that you are trying a new approach and ask for feedback. Our unlearning can also create new space for the team. For example. try not being the first to speak in a meeting, or asking for three new ideas in a team meeting before sharing your thoughts. This can bring forward new approaches and ideas for you and the whole team.
The Harvard Business School article Make Learning A Part of Your Daily Routine has a list of tested tips to help us with new ways of working. It’s time to acknowledge we are knowledge workers, and our primary value is the ideas we bring, not the emails we send. Learning can be incorporated into our everyday work through questioning, connecting, and unlearning. Let’s lead the way to a new way of leadership and learning together.