Lifelong Learning

Leaders Are Lifelong Learners

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership, 3-LI

I’m just back from the fun city of Nashville, TN. I was there to attend a leadership conference, and boy, was it worth my time. The organizers treated us to great keynote speakers and many engaging breakout sessions.

I am all about continuous learning, so this annual conference fits my bill. It was three days of learning from experts as well as colleagues.

The first keynote speaker was Nadja West, Lieutenant General (Ret), the 44th Army Surgeon General. West was also a former Commanding General of the US Army Medical Command. Additionally, General West is the first African American woman 3-star General in the Army’s history and is currently the highest-ranking woman to ever graduate from West Point.

General West told her story of the many mentors who shared their wisdom and encouragement as she rose through the ranks. She related her lessons learned at each step to our work as Vistage Chairs and coaches. It was a privilege to attend her keynote. She made it practical and entertaining.

I dedicated the balance of the day to breakout sessions focusing on turning obstacles into opportunities and the art of asking questions. I believe that Intent-Based Leadership is the right way to lead an organization, and asking questions is a key to that leadership style.

Day two found us enthralled by the fabulous Sandy Gennaro. Sandy is a world-class speaker, drummer, author, and coach who has recorded and toured with several globally known artists such as Cyndi Lauper, Joan Jett, The Monkeys, Bo Diddley, Johnny Winter, and Robin Gibb, among others.

His multimedia presentation, Beat the Odds, was one of the most uplifting and inspiring presentations in the seventeen years I’ve attended this conference. Gennaro beat the odds as he earned his living as a professional musician. A few lessons I took from Sandy’s presentation were to discover my passion, be relentlessly persistent in pursuing it, and have fun along the way. When I asked my colleagues what they thought of Sandy’s keynote, everyone echoed my thoughts—the most uplifting and inspiring presentation they had experienced.

I filled the balance of day two being scared out of my wits by the breakout session on cybersecurity and a session learning how leaders sometimes manage to entangle rather than engage their employees.

The final day found us focused on learning 7 Ways to Deepen Motivation, Sharpen Decision-making, and Do More with Less from Daniel Pink. Here are the takeaways from Mr. Pink: 1. Create a “To-Don’t List; 2. Each day, list three ways you made progress; 3. Each week, have two fewer conversations about “how” and two more about “why”; 4. With your most vexing challenges, ask, “What COULD I do?”; 5. To influence others, build them an off-ramp, 6. Schedule a 15-minute walk break every other afternoon, and finally, 7. Find boldness for yourself by taking a step back. As you would expect from Daniel Pink, he provided much valuable content for each of the seven ways.

Effective leaders are continuous learners. So what are you doing to “sharpen the saw”? Thank you again for taking the time to watch this podcast. I hope you found it worth your time and perhaps picked up a couple of ideas to put to work in your life and business. Make it a great day.