Learning to learn improves earning

REGARDLESS of their size, industry or financial health, a majority of major companies around the world are suffering some version of executive talent shortage.

These leadership constraints are not merely troublesome in the short term. They are accurately viewed as the most serious ‘opportunity cost’ facing the corporation.

In some of the more rapidly growing high tech companies, it is a major constraint to the ambitions of their boards and CEOs.

Faced with these constraints, many companies are turning inward to re-focus on the rapid development of their own executives.

It is important to remember that leading edge executive talent will only be attracted and, most importantly, only be retained by those companies providing accelerated opportunity for development and immediate career challenges.

The shortage of leaders is heightened by the extraordinary challenges of operating in the global marketplace and keeping up with the fast-changing nature of technology.

It has led to a heightened demand for executive programs.

Lifelong learning is no longer an option — it is a necessity if individuals and the corporations they run are to survive, and thrive, in the 21st century.

In the 1970s, the average manager operated within a country or state, working with a relatively homogenous workforce and selling within a particular region.

Today, even small companies are finding the world is their marketplace and they are managing workforces with hugely different expectations.

Their managers are required to travel more. They need to be culturally aware and able to work with an increasingly diverse group of business leaders.

They must master technology that is changing so rapidly some managers over 40 are at risk of making themselves irrelevant to their organisations.

They must remember that today a major piece of equipment can be designed by working collaboratively online with teams in different countries.

The changing business environment calls for a far broader managerial skill base than in the past.

Today a manager’s most vital skill is probably ‘learning to learn’.

The half-life of knowledge is short — often two or three years — so you risk becoming useless to your organisation unless you can operate in an environment in which problem-solving and communication skills have become supremely important.

Today management is increasingly about asking how you can provide a vision for your organisation and how you can motivate a team to go out and make it happen — without specifically directing them to do so.

In the future the distinction between leadership and management will become even greater.

The need will be for leaders more than managers — and the blend of skills will alter dramatically.

Because today one expects to make five or six career moves in a working life, career self-management has become a core skill and life-long learning is a major component of this.

If you have spent ten years with a company and earned a lot of money but not acquired any new skills your chances of advancing in that company, or any other, are limited.

You have to constantly ask: “What is my learning path?” because it will be in direct relation to your earning path.

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