1) Gain knowledge or skill by study, experience or being taught; 2) Become aware of by information or from observation; 3) Acquire or develop a particular ability.
Agree that good leadership requires some element of confidence. Confidence, in turn, often derives from a strong ego presence. When this is balanced with personal insight, empathy and an inclination to learn, ego drives leaders to exude confidence in their vision so others feel compelled and comfortable following. Willingness to learn counterbalances the ego, keeping it under control. It avoids unbridled egotism.
Retain a desire to learn. When there is a loss of desire to continuously improve, the ego runs amok. Self-assured becomes overly confident and eventually turns to self-importance. With ego as the driver, over time a leader’s persuasion becomes less personally authentic and more power- or position-centric. This robs them of the true privilege and power of leadership.
Distinguish between knowledge and data (or information). Many leaders are confused and dazzled by the amount of information they receive daily about their organizations. Yet, so much of this information has no real value. It lacks a context or intent that turns data into knowledge – meaning, clarity about the context or intent with which the information is being collected. Randomness equals random results.
Act with intent. Good leaders develop a sense of the issues and immediately seek help to assess options or validate perspectives. Good leaders encourage everyone, including themselves, to access sources of learning and knowledge. They do not rely on lower-level information to provide intent or context, and therefore avoid being manipulated by “statistics lies”.
Understand how tasks are really performed. Leaders must learn to understand the less obvious aspects of how tasks such as transaction processing and service delivery are handled. It is the difference between knowing how many transactions are being processed per day (information) versus how customers are being treated as these orders are processed (knowledge).
Stay away from exercises to document tacit knowledge. While we can extract the knowledge (maybe) locked in employees’ heads, we cannot replicate the dedication, judgment and tenacity of a single employee acting in the best interests of the business. Do not allow so-called knowledge management initiatives to dehumanize your work environment through documentation to eliminate headcount.
Share rather than hoard information. When information becomes something to control, we move away from a collaborative model of sharing collective wisdom – one that is required to succeed in today’s hypercompetitive world. Pay attention to the inherent message you are sending about knowledge management; treat it as a collaborative tool to improve intellectual capital.
Generate awareness through organizational learning. While not generally easily measured, an organization’s ability to correctly diagnose potential opportunities and threats in the environment takes it from good to great. Combined with ability to execute swiftly, awareness builds a capability called organizational agility (value attained through quality of insight and speed of execution).
Questions For Reflection
When was the last time you focused on learning something completely new, and what was the subject?
What is it like for you to learn (e.g., invigorating, rewarding, challenging, etc.)?
Answer the question: “If I could only completely learn about one thing, it would be…”