We do not spontaneously learn that we don’t learn that we don’t learn… We don’t learn rules, just facts, and only facts. Metarules (such as the rule that we have a tendency to not learn rules) we don’t seem to be good at getting. We scorn the abstract; we scorn it with passion.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
So I was having breakfast with a friend. She has led large organizations, and is now an independent consultant and working in a major leadership role in a mid-sized company.
We were discussing the age-old problem: does training work? That is, does training produce the desired results?
Our answer – sometimes, with some people. But, no, there seems to be no magic solutions, no guaranteed-to-succeed formula to the problem of people who do not learn from the training provided.
But, we had plenty of thoughts about how to make it better – like… the leader really does have to support the training (like, sitting in on, and participating, so the folks can see their leader fully engaged.).
She said that people with “higher”” titles — you know, titles that indicate “look at how high up in this organization I am” – such people sometimes seem to think that training sessions are “beneath” them. In other words, they are not learning much because they think they don’t need the training themselves.
So, she said (get ready – here comes the magic phrase):
“You’ve got to take a journey without your ego.”
Bam! There it is. A leader: has to put his or her ego fully aside, and take the training, development journey with everyone else in the organization. Pretty much on an ongoing basis – perpetually.
Because there is always the next new thing to learn…
Because no one is above needing to learn
Because everybody needs to keep learning.
And a person with too much ego may have real trouble learning as they should.
She is right, of course – my breakfast companion.
So, the question for you, and for me, is this:
“Am I willing to set my ego aside, and keep learning?” If I’m not willing to do that, how can I expect any one else to do that?