Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes. ~ Peter Drucker
Leaders are interesting creatures. They come in all shapes, sizes, colours and backgrounds and to try to categorize or lump them into a single description is futile, and rather pointless as well. There is, however, one characteristic that seems to be ingrained in most of those we consider leaders.
They are lifelong learners, meaning they are curious and always eager to learn more. To learn more about their business, their employees, and about themselves. They read voraciously. They Google things they are curious about, like the origins of certain words, sports statistics, the backgrounds of famous people in history. It’s not a search for perfection, but about being better at whatever they deem to be important.
Recently I stayed at the Dearborn Inn near Ford headquarters, just outside of Detroit. The inn was built by Henry Ford, as was the airport just in front, to land and house Ford executives and clients from all over the world for meetings and conferences. I didn’t know this before, but Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were contemporaries, and early in his life Henry Ford worked for Edison.
Both Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were life long learners; curious tinkerers in all sorts of areas. Ford was not only curious to learn more about motor cars, but also production techniques, modern town planning, social issues, and all sorts of other human endeavours. Thomas Edison was the ultimate curious learner, attested by the fact that he had 2,332 patents to his name. Besides the light bulb, Edison also invented the motion picture projector and the phonograph.
I am not overly impressed by the great names and reputations of those who might be trying to beat me to an invention…. Its their ‘ideas’ that appeal to me.I am quite correctly described as ‘more of a sponge than an inventor….’ ~Thomas Edison
Often on a leadership team I have the pleasure of working with one or two individuals stand out for their curiosity and openness to learning. Too often senior executives contract the “know it all” disease, which of course is ultimately fatal, since the world is changing so rapidly and, as Marshall Goldsmith is famous for saying; “what got you here won’t get you there”. More often than not, a year or two later these open sponges for knowledge and understanding are promoted, many times to the top job when the CEO either moves on or is pushed out.
Where ever they reside in the organization, the curious learners always wind up making a positive difference.
Tight Lines . . .
John R Childress