Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Leaders never stop learning

It is said that leaders never stop learning, a true leader is always looking to expand his horizons and bring new knowledge and skills to the table. People are more willing to follow a leader that has demonstrable proficiency in the area that they are leading their people in.

Here at Macadamian, the leadership group is very committed to continuous learning, it fits in with one of our values of "Constant Improvement"

Our Director of IT and Process Improvement is always handing out new books to the leadership group to read. It is quite hard to keep up on all the interesting reading being passed out and my own personal reading and training.

Book learning is one way to learn, and it is a useful way, but it is only one of many ways. Most people learn best by learning through experience. You can learn from a mentor, from working on a project, from taking a chance, or from failing.

People don't like to learn from failing because people don't like failing. It is stressful, you feel bad, and a generally annoyed at yourself for making the mistakes you made.

But, failing is OK, you learn from it. Organizations must create an atmosphere and culture where failing doesn't result with a firing or other punishment as long as the failure wasn't caused by negligence or malice.

An atmosphere of informed risk taking can lead to absolutely amazing results, and advances in technology and product design. At Macadamian we learned this long ago, if people were fired for a project that goes red, or worse yet, infrared, many of us at Macadamian would no longer be at Macadamian, and Macadamian would be bereft of some amazing and talented individuals.

Of course not all mistakes made result in such drastic results, sometimes the mistakes are from choosing the wrong technology, or making an assumption that doesn't pan out. We at Macadamian try to encourage our team to take informed risks in order to deliver high quality projects as quickly as possible. You can't always wait to get every single fact before acting.

I have often said, that the success of leader is not in the mistakes they don't make, but how they learn from the mistakes they do make.

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