This blog is a revised and updated version of a previously published blog.
You've worked hard to get to where you are. You've earned your degrees, climbed the corporate ladder, and are now a successful leader. You're busy, and you may be wondering why you need to spend time on continuing education.
Perhaps, we should pause here and examine what makes a good leader. According to Forbes magazine, a good leader is a trailblazer, never afraid to take a risk, always willing to lead. Similarly, Forbes magazine defines a great leader as one who can inspire their team. This inspiration leads to higher reaching, bigger dreams, and greater achievements. Great leaders understand how to harness the strengths of their teams, capitalize on the team’s strengths and inspire everyone to be a trailblazer.
Great leaders are made, not born. People are not born with the knowledge of how to be a great leader, rather they are born with the desire to lead. Leadership is a learned skill as well as an inherent trait. Julius Caesar knew he wanted to be a great leader, and he honed these skills through a military career. Theodore Roosevelt knew he wanted to be in charge, and so he did everything he could to learn and be better.
According to the Center for Creative Leadership, a great leader has certain characteristics: honesty, the ability to delegate, communication, a sense of humor, confidence, commitment, a positive attribute, is creative, has the ability to inspire and has an innate sense of intuition. Not every great leader has all of these skills, most have a few to more than half of these skills. I would argue each of these skills is a muscle that can be developed and strengthened through diligent practice. And development begins with education.
There are many reasons why continuing education is important for leaders. First, it can help you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies in your field. This is essential in today's rapidly changing world. Second, continuing education can help you develop new skills and knowledge that will make you a more effective leader. For example, you may want to learn how to be a better communicator, how to manage change more effectively, or how to build a more inclusive team. Third, continuing education can help you stay motivated and engaged in your work. It can give you a new sense of purpose and direction, and it can help you stay ahead of the curve.
Every good leader of the last decade, not those who rule in fear, rather those who lead through inspiration, were well educated. Education comes in many forms, and a great leader is open to them all. I believe I can learn something from everyone I encounter. In one leadership position, I had the opportunity to employ several people, ranging in skill from entry level to advanced career. When people look at my resume, they see I have completed numerous training and schools and can assume I think I know best. I am smart enough to know, I usually don’t. In fact, while it may appear that I have an abundance of skills and can conquer any challenge, I would say to you, no, I understand how to use the strengths of my team to meet the challenge. These are very different skills.
Continuing education does not have to be a chore. Rather it can be a vacation. A day or two away from the office, a chance to focus just on yourself, spend time with your peers, make new friends and learn, can be an amazing reward for all your hard work. Reading books on leadership and communication can inspire you and help you to flex your muscles, not in power, rather in growth. Attending a seminar on a topic you are already well versed in can provide an opportunity to meet fellow peers and discuss concerns you have, rather than be a waste of time.
So if you're a leader who is looking to stay ahead of the curve, continuing education is a must. It's an investment in your future that will pay off in many ways.
Here are some additional benefits of continuing education for leaders:
Increased knowledge and skills
Improved job performance
Greater career satisfaction
Increased earning potential
Enhanced leadership abilities
Stronger professional network
Increased personal and professional development
If you're a leader who is serious about your career, continuing education is essential. It's an investment that will pay off for years to come.
Continuing education can provide the breaks we as leaders need, the time away from the typical problems of the office. Continuing education can be just what the doctor ordered.