Wednesday, May 2, 2012
The Best Leaders Are The Best Learners
My recent briefing at the National Council Mental Health and Addictions Conference in Chicago,
Creating and Leading A Team in Times of Change premium members, focused on the change management skills that leaders and managers in the health and human service field need (see
What Do Today's Leaders Think About Managing Change? all members). The briefing brought an interesting perspective about that need to change from OPEN MINDS Circle subscriber, Bill Milnor, Director of Business Processes at the Mental Health Center of Denver, which got me thinking.
Bill's comment was "Production in an earlier time was more about consistency and conformity, or uniformity. Today is more about potential, capacity and value...I used to think of myself and our work force as knowledge workers, and to some degree we still are. I am now thinking that knowledge has become much shorter in shelf life and what we have to recruit is strong learners who are deep in curiosity and mindful awareness. I like the Jack Welch quote: 'Change before you have to.'"
What Bill's comment triggered for me was the concept about the "shelf life" of knowledge – and that given the many developments in science, technology, politics, and more – strong leaders and strong managers are going to need to be strong learners. Once upon a time you learned what you needed to know and that was it. Those days are gone. To be successful, today's (and tomorrow's) health and human services executive will need to constantly learn, and relearn just to keep up with the rapidly changing policy, practice, consumer and technological changes in the industry. This is a new core competency for leaders and managers.
This competency is one of an emerging group of new skills needed in our management teams – and parallels a previous post from my colleague, OPEN MINDS Chief Executive Officer Monica E. Oss about new leadership competencies and that for many executives, the new demands are a bad fit for their old skills and interests (see
Managerial Mismatch In An Increasingly Competitive Market all members).
And for a deeper look into change management, check out Ms. Oss’ cover story from this month’s
OPEN MINDS newsletter,
Leadership Among The Fighting Elephants, as well as these previous
"Manage Things, Lead People" all members
What's Your Iceberg? all members
We Did This Ourselves all members
Will Your Culture Eat Your Strategy For Lunch? all members
They Moved the Managerial Finish Line all members
Great leadership cultivates the ability of everyone in the organization to change. By anticipating and preparing yourself for what is going to happen next, with constant learning, you can make sure your organization is on the right path.
John F. Talbot, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President, OPEN MINDS
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Looking at Leadership Through a Big Picture Lens
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OPEN MINDS Circle members.
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