Most of us live by the philosophy that to learn is quite difficult. Perhaps it can be. What is harder is to unlearn many of the things which are accumulated over the years.
If you go to any bookstore, you will find plenty of books written about various aspects of leadership. Most people in top positions at organizations feel that to be effective; they must continuously be learning.
While learning is not a negative thing, the more potent thing to do is unlearning. It can be especially useful for those in leadership and managerial positions.
According to ALPS Leadership Founder & CEO Philip Liebman, there are three ideas that leaders need to unlearn to improve their abilities.
“Shedding unproductive habits requires escaping the confines of our comfort zone to the place where we challenge ourselves to become the kind of leader we need to and can be,” writes Liebman on LinkedIn’s Pulse. “Unlearning these three habits of thinking is a good place to begin.”
First, leaders are under the impression that they are the only ones that can accomplish certain things. It comes from the notion that everyone else at an organization is entirely dependent on leaders and managers.
There is a misconception that people in top positions have all the answers. However, this type of thinking is egotistical and only hinders creativity. Leaders should always be open to learning from others; the most effective way is to listen to what people have to say – no matter what their position is in the company.
As the years have passed, I have learned to delegate responsibility and tasks to others. Not doing so only hurts the overall organization in the end. I often wonder why leaders who chose to take on all the burdens themselves hire employees. Companies have employees for a reason. Trust them, give them freedom and your people will shine.
Second, leaders often think that their organization cannot be successful without them. While companies do need people at top positions, it is those at the ground level and across the company that takes companies to a higher level. One of the most important things that an effective leader can do is to ensure that a culture of inclusiveness, openness, and trust is created throughout the company. Everything else will fall into place after this.
Finally, leaders who can unlearn will acknowledge that leadership is not a final destination. Leaders need to continually evolve and be willing to admit mistakes and admit misgivings. Those who believe they have all the answers are usually the most ignorant. However, someone who can admit they don’t know something and are willing to listen to others and learn is very wise. It is this wisdom that makes exceptional leaders.
I have always told anyone who works for me that no matter what type of education he or she has, they must unlearn in order to become a productive member of our team. In other words, a person may have several degrees from top universities and still be completely ignorant. Real learning does not happen in a classroom – it happens when we interact with others and listen to their ideas.
As I get older, I realize how much I do not know. This is because I have learned to ignore the ego and listen to my heart. By doing this I am able to admit when I am wrong. It is not an easy thing to do but it makes such a difference when interacting with others. This demonstrates that one is human.