Are you sitting down? I want to tell you something important.
Leaders, you do not need to know everything.
Take a deep breath. Now let it out.
Let me say this one more time so it really sinks in:
You do not need to know everything.
The greatest leaders are the best students. They are willing to admit their humble position of lacking knowledge and they are hungry enough to look for it. A great leader knows to surround themselves with people and resources that will help them learn what they lack.
Here are 3 practices that you can immediately put into place today to become a better student you and ultimately, a better leader. They may appear "simple" at first, but if these practices are regularly exercised in your life, you will grow in your learning and grow in your leading.
#1: Become a Book Worm.
At the risk of sounding like your grandmother, I want to remind you of the importance to regularly read books. I hear you whispering under your breath, "Yea, Todd, whose got time to read? I'm a leader! I'm busy!" Friend, you are too busy NOT read.
Here's another tip: Download books onto your kindle app to your android phone. This way, when you have a few minutes to spare between meetings, you can read a few pages. Also, I would highly recommend getting a subscription to Audible.com. Commutes are a great time to get some reading in. You can listen to a book to and from your way to work and when driving to appointments.
#2: Become a Pod Head.
Podcasts. Podcasts. Podcasts. Let me it say one more time, Podcasts... are a great and free way to become a better student so you can be a better leader. There are a zillion podcasts about a zillion different topics. All you need to have access to podcasts is a either an android phone or a computer with online access. You can subscribe to podcasts through iTunes or Stitcher. If you need help with finding some great podcast shows on leadership, check out this list.
You can listen to podcasts during your commute or when you are on the treadmill. The beauty of podcasts is that they are usually free and portable. There is an endless supply of awesome content out there to help you learn! It literally is available at your fingertips so there is no reason to NOT utilize this resource. Become a Pod Head and you will become a better leader!
#3: Become an Attendee.
There are many conferences, workshops, and lectures that are tailor made to help you become better at what you do. These events are happening all the time. You should attend them! I think if you an attend one conference a year and try to go to a workshop or an event at least once a season, you will find that your skills will stay sharp. Not only will you be learning from experts but you will also find the bonus benefit of being able to network and build relationships with like minded people who are in similar positions as you. Learning in the environment of community is very valuable! Where else will you be able to bounce ideas, ask questions, and find organic insight by conversing with peers who do not necessarily "work with you".
I host 4-6 events a year for Nonprofit Leaders in the NJ/NYC area. Why? Because I believe that when people come together to learn, converse, and build into each other - the world becomes a better place. If you are in the NJ/NYC area and are interested in attending one my events, please contact us here.
Becoming a better student so you can become a better leader is important. In fact, it is one the valuable ways to use your time and I know you are busy, friend. As you grow and sharpen your skills by learning, you will find that even though you don't know everything - you can lead in confidence.
Learn. Lead. Do good.
Todd Polyniak is a partner at SAX and is an expert in Not-For-Profit financial health for over 30 years.