Unlocking Your Leadership Puzzle: Celebrate Your Distinctive Role and Create a Powerful Legacy

How much do you value learning?

A desire to simplify life has been powering progress for thousands of years. For much of the world, life is more convenient than it ever has been: electric washers and dryers, microwavable dinners, and computers in our pockets.

And yet, even with all these things maximizing our time, we are busier than ever before. 

Convenience comes at a cost. When electric washers and dryers made laundry easier, we started doing it every week, not every month. When texting made communication simple, we started communicating more. The easier something becomes, the less of an excuse we have not to do it. It’s like Uncle Ben said in Spider-Man:

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

In an environment as busy as this – especially with a leader’s responsibility – taking time to grow, develop, and learn can easily get lost in the mix.

This was exactly the situation that Satya Nadella inherited when he became CEO of Microsoft in 2014. In his book, Hit Refresh, he describes Microsoft’s culture as

“rigid. Each employee had to prove to everyone that he or she was the smartest person in the room. Accountability—delivering on time and hitting numbers—trumped everything…Hierarchy and pecking order had taken control, and spontaneity and creativity had suffered.”

He knew the innovative spirit at Microsoft’s roots was being stifled by this rigidity.

To combat it, Nadella began with the corporate culture: he started shifting the atmosphere from “know-it-all” to “learn-it-all.” He prioritized empathy, collaboration, and growth – but in particular, growth through learning. Why? Because learning doesn’t always mean improving, but failing to learn always means failing to improve.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina said,

“As a leader, you have to constantly be learning. You have to be learning about your field and also about leadership. You have to be committed to constant learning.”

Even as busy as we are – even as much as we have due – we must be committed to learning if we have any hope of moving the dial!

But change does not always come easy. If you have tried to make learning a priority in your organization and you have found it frustrating, odds are it was for one of these reasons:

  1. Time constraints. Of course, in the busyness of modern business, there are so many other things demanding our attention and our team’s attention. But we have time for what we make time for. Schedule learning into your team’s daily or weekly to-do and encourage other leaders in your organization to do the same.
  2. Lack of leadership support and involvement. A leader’s most effective influence is their example. So when leadership does not model or support growth through learning, teams won’t embrace it. Invest in your own growth and development, and equip other leaders to do the same by offering training on how to coach, mentor, offer and receive constructive feedback, and cultivate a learning mindset.
  3. Resistance to change. If there is one thing that people do not like, it is the unknown. Change, even for the better, is often resisted, especially when new responsibilities are involved. Clearly communicate the benefits of learning to your team; hear their response to change, and take it into account where appropriate. Then, as they move in step with the change, offer them support resources like one-on-one coaching or mentorship programs.
  4. The remote work environment. Since the pandemic, many organizations have become increasingly remote. The farther scattered a workforce is, the less immediate accountability there is. But even remotely, we have every opportunity to prioritize learning that we would in-office. The same tools that make remote work possible, like Zoom and Teams, make remote learning possible as well. Then, leaders can promote collaboration by encouraging teams to share their learning takeaways amongst themselves.

What would you move, modify, or pay to have a guaranteed edge over your competitors?

That is how much you must value learning. As former General Electric CEO Jack Welch said,

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

That’s the difference it can make for your organization.

Take this next week to review where you can add this advantage to the schedule, the to-do list, and the budget for yourself and your team.

That’s all for now! 🙂

Become Your Best Version,


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