We should all be learners. That is especially true of leaders. The day you stop learning, is the day you give up on leading. I really believe that. Most of the time, people can only go a far as their leader. The Apostle Paul was confident enough in his leadership that he wrote, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice” (Phil. 4:9).
Why is learning such an essential part of leadership? What does a learning leader look like? Here are 5 qualities every learning leader has.
- Learning leaders see themselves as students, not experts.
They never feel that they know all there is to know. With humility, they are willing to learn from others. They are attending seminars, reading, and in relationship with others who are growing. These wise leaders surround themselves with smart, capable volunteers or staff.
- Learning leaders want to be stretched, never stagnate.
They long to be challenged. They fear complacency and look for ways to do or make things better. Change is viewed as a good thing, not as a threat. They don’t allow the comfort of the known to draw them away from the challenge of the new.
- Learning leaders are open to a new perspective, not the same old thing.
Have you noticed there is more than one way to approach ministry? Learning leaders have an openness to see things differently. They invite insights from outsiders and create space for others to suggest a new take on ministry whether from a trusted friend, a podcast or even outside of ministry.
- Learning leaders are passionate, not apathetic.
These leaders are never described as hum-drum. They are excited, revved up, and eager to take on the next project, sermon series, or meeting. They look for ways to bring energy and creativity to the task at hand. Most of all, they depend on the Holy Spirit to empower them to do the work God has called them to do.
- Learning leaders strive to remain relevant, not stuck in a rut.
They know their community and adapt to their context. They embrace out-of-the-box thinking so that they can expand their reach. If something is not working they are will try something else. They embrace the changes that are right for the times and for their community.
BEFORE YOU GO…
How are you learning in order to be a better leader this year? This year we are planning a number of online learning opportunities. Some are one and done, while others will meet weekly for as many as ten sessions. You’re sure to find at least one that will pique your interest and work with your schedule. You can see the list here. (Be sure to check back regularly as we’ll be adding to the offerings.)
Wondering if you’re a learning leader? Here are some questions I recently read to reflect on:
- What are you reading?
- What are you learning?
- What surprises have you encountered recently?
- What are you unlearning?
- What would you like to learn?
- Think of yourself five years ago. How are you different today?
- What are you learning from failure/success?