Do Learners Make The Most Effective Leaders?

Joe Weinlick
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Rising to a position of authority doesn't transform a person into an all-knowing guru, but the knowledge gained throughout a career can produce a good leader. Whether a leader has something to prove or simply enjoys control, managing with a know-it-all mentality hinders communication and prevents the team from exploring the best solutions. Good leaders absorb information and listen to the opinions of others, so they can overcome the limitations of their own perspectives.

Learners Are Collaborators

Despite the immense responsibility of being an authority figure, many employers fail to define clear standards of what constitutes a good leader, which leaves these roles open to interpretation. Leaders who value their own experience above all others' are prone to close-mindedness and micromanagement, making them reluctant to take advice or admit to gaps in their knowledge. They may delegate out of the necessity, but they question every decision employees make and rarely offer adequate support to make colleagues feel appreciated and motivated.

On the other hand, learners have the self-awareness to recognize that they don't know everything. An eager curiosity makes learners comfortable with probing for more information and asking for ideas, as they don't want to overlook important possibilities. Instead of explaining the "right answer" and expecting compliance, good leaders foster collaboration by encouraging employees to take risks and follow through on promising ideas. They inspire employees to support one another, so individual workers aren't afraid to speak up when they have better solutions.

Learners Are Mentors

Telling employees exactly what to do gets the job done, but it leaves little room for growth. However, acting as a guide provides a framework for employees to follow while offering opportunities for them to make their own decisions. Learners may be hoarders or sharers of knowledge. The latter group often produces good leaders because sharers know that many problems have multiple solutions, and they value two-way feedback. While hoarders are threatened by competitive talent, sharers are interested in observing the methods others use to achieve positive results and pointing out areas where employees can improve. As a result, they create a culture of learning in which workers feel empowered, and the entire team benefits from employees' collective experience.

Learners Are Realistic

People who thrive on learning value facts and evidence, making them more inclined to dig for the source of a problem until they have a clear picture. From a monetary perspective, inquisitive thinkers are often profitable because they are less likely to ignore workflow problems or support counterproductive methods for the sake of convention. The good thing is that realistic thinkers can also be dreamers, harnessing a balance of caution and trial-and-error to make changes wherever they see a need.

Good leaders are lifelong learners who set the tone for a cooperative and intellectually oriented workplace, giving workers the tools to expand their potential. Employers can start developing a culture of learning by clearly communicating the goals of the company and providing professional development opportunities at every level.

Photo courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at



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