While most firm leaders agree that training is important, many of the same believe that there is not time for it—either for themselves or their employees. As a result, many firms are mired in the past with little hope of keeping up with the pack—much less passing it.
Letting go of risky attitudes
Your firm is at risk of falling behind in today’s marketplace if you as a leader do not let go of risky attitudes about learning. The table below illustrates some of these.
|Tenure||"I know more than you because I’ve been doing it longer.”|
|Command and control||"I know more than you, so you’ll do it my way—or find another job.”|
|Keep it a secret||"I know more than you, but I won’t share my knowledge because you probably don’t need it anyway.”|
|Competition||"I know more than you, and I will prove it.”|
Learning is a strategy for success
Learning should be crucial to your strategy as a firm leader. It will enable you to recruit the best and brightest employees as well as keep them. Furthermore, it increases employee productivity and furthers the development of future leaders. Achieving these goals begins with a commitment from those at the top.
As a leader, you must develop your own Teachable Point of View (TPOV)i , which orders one's knowledge in a way that can be clearly taught to others. A TPOV includes your ideas and values but should also be framed to motivate others and help them learn to make difficult decisions.
Devoting yourself to cultivating knowledge will yield several benefits.
|Leaders emerge at all levels||With increased capabilities, many people are ready to step in and lead.|
|Your firm attracts a talented workforce||Leaders dedicated to learning are a magnet to bright job candidates looking for a great place to work.|
|Your firm becomes more productive||Skilled workers are more efficient, resulting in better financial performance.|
|A pool of qualified successors in your own backyard||When adding or replacing partners, you don’t have to go outside to look for candidates.|
Every leader a teacher
Good teachers strive to understand a topic inside and out in order to avoid embarrassment before their students. This is good. But being vulnerable to others discovering what you don’t know, however, is also good. It tears down the barrier to collaborative learning, and the instructor can receive knowledge in addition to giving it. By opening our minds to those we teach, we tap a host of skills and knowledge literally within arms’ reach.
Educating additionally offers the satisfaction of watching others develop into tomorrow’s leaders before your own eyes, and a more informed and intelligent workforce amplifies a firm’s performance
Consider these thoughts from Noel Tichy: "Proven leaders do the teaching. They have a teachable point of view about running and changing the business, as well as about leadership. They personally act as coaches and role models, and they share their mistakes as well as their victories.” ii
All progress starts with the truth
Assess where you as a firm leader stand on this issue today. Prioritize learning initiatives within your firm and focus resources on them. Culture starts at the top of the firm. Partners must talk the talk and walk the walk to ensure the firm’s success in learning. Become a Training Leader and watch your firm rise to the top.
i Tichy, Noel with Nancy Cardwell. The Cycle of Leadership. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.