Great leaders are great students

Great leaders are great students

As you progress through your career, what type of learning path do you choose to take?

You could either choose to mindlessly get through each day, each task, doing your job. Or you could develop a learning modality and consciously work each day by building on very specific goals and skills that will help you progress with your leadership career.

The best leaders are groomed from experience. If you wish to maximize your experience, you need to develop a growth mindset and diligently work through the phases of the experiential learning cycle.

  1. Set yourself a challenging learning goal. Word the goal in a way that you can connect to it. For example, “I am going to learn how to….[become more persuasive] Then, identify opportunities both at work and in your personal life to implement your goal.
  2. Experiment with different approaches. If you are interested in learning to become more persuasive, place yourself into different situations to assess your level of persuasiveness. For example, contribute to a team meeting, present in front of a group of people, attend a networking session.”
  3. Review your results and fine-tune your strategy. Reflect on what went well and what can be improved. Immediately look for opportunities to try out your alternative approach.


You become a great leader by becoming a student for life. Learning never ends.

Closing Thoughts: How can companies help their leaders to become great students

  1. Stop comparing leaders to other people in the organization. This is demoralizing and creates jealousy and disharmony among team members. Instead, help a leader to progress by constantly asking them to improve on their previous best attempt.
  2. Have open communication channels. Do not wait for an official monthly or bi-annual performance review to provide developmental feedback to your leaders. Instill a culture of transparency, trust and mutual respect. Leaders should be able to ask for help and receive developmental feedback as and when it is needed.
  3. Celebrate mistakes. Failures reflect a breakdown in a system. It’s a feedback loop that something needs to be changed. Instead of making a person feel inferior for making a mistake, view mistakes as potential learning opportunities rather than a leadership inadequacy.
  4. When recruiting and hiring potential leaders hire people who has the most potential to learn, grow and develop within a role.


Once organisations can support their leaders to develop a growth mindset, they can create a leadership pipeline  with developed capabilities who will be better suited to deal with the challenges to lead a company to success.