There is an increasing awareness amongst management practitioners and human resources specialists that learning organisations are the way to the future. Knowledge makes the difference between high performance organisations and those that are the also rans – and it is people that acquire knowledge, not material, machines or systems.
Jack Welch, the Chairman of General Electric, recognised as the firm second in size only to Microsoft, has instructed his managers to devote one third of their effort to the development of people. He believes that in this highly technical world, equipment and systems can be bought from others, but you must invest in and develop your people if you are to remain competitive.
At a recent Asian Region Training and Development Conference held in Bali Indonesia, the recurrent theme was leadership development.
But why self development? Surely attendance at a course and the natural experiences of life are sufficient for continuous development. Not so - learning about leadership is a never-ending process. Virtually all experienced people will tell you the same thing. And to be most effective, the learning needs to be more than that acquired just through casual experience. We need to increase our knowledge and skills through reading about contemporary ideas, observing good and bad examples of leadership, and finally and most importantly, continuing to apply the lessons learnt on our courses, and also through these other means.
One suggestion is to seek out someone you know to be a good leader and ask them to be your leadership coach or mentor. Request that they observe and comment on how well you implement the key leadership functions. This feedback will be invaluable to your continued development as a leader.