Rather than a journey of knowing, bold leadership is a journey of learning. Truly effective leadership is very much a result of a continuous openness to learn from ourselves, others and the world around us. Bold leaders take this belief even further by having a conscious hunger for learning. That hunger is both a reward and a risk: it takes them to their higher consciousness, after it has first taken them deeper into themselves.
Why would they want to take that risk? Eric Hoffer’s quote best promotes the imperative of leaders as learners: In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The knowers usually find themselves beautifully equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.
The thing is, times of drastic change in our world are never-ending. In fact, they are the regular nature of our world. Encouraging leaders to accept the perspective that effective leading is conscious continuous learning could well be their essential strength in the face of the current and any future complexity.
Complexity is a pretty uncomfortable land in which we are faced with the changed rules and unpredictable future. Leaders will many times try to work more or harder to navigate their complex realities, while it is in fact much about learning to work – differently. Operating from a different level: transforming the way we make sense of ourselves, others and our world. Having an upgraded system equipped to run our new circumstances as more advanced applications.
This new higher-level operating system can very much be downloaded and installed through our personal leadership development, our coaching and learning process. The time required may be: well, ongoing. You learn as long as you lead and the more consciously, intentionally and committedly you do it, the more effective your leadership is likely to be. The bolder you will be.
By being a bold leader learner, what we really do is stay open to pursue all we are capable of being. Working in a frenzy to tick all the operational and performance boxes, how often do we ask ourselves as leaders – what else am I capable of being? How often do we pause to reflect and learn? And if we fail to do that, are we not missing to tick two such important and mutually connected boxes in our life and leadership journey: the “potential” box and the “fulfilment” box.
If we don’t attempt to learn from ourselves and the way we make sense of the world, embrace the painful restructuring of our own identity and then structure it back to operate on a higher level of consciousness, how can we ever reach the potential we have the gift of and how can we ever experience deep fulfilment that arrives together with unlocking that potential. And if we don’t dare to tap into our potential and neglect the bliss of fulfilment, what are we left with then?
Potential and fulfilment are our uniqueness and our commonality. Every single one of us has its own expression and experience of personal potential and fulfilment, and all of us, with no exceptions, need them both to be able to say we fully, boldly lived and led.