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Monica Wofford, CSP, is a professional speaker and CEO of Contagious Companies, a training and consulting firm that develops better leaders and trains managers how to become better leaders.

Do you think you’ve had enough growth to graduate as a leader?

Everyday on Facebook, there are dozens of graduation photos and sneak-peaks into the promising future of our bright eyed youth. What an exciting time and yet, it made me think of leadership. Does a leader ever get to don the cap and gown and graduate from their growth? Does the music play and party commence or do leaders simply continue to do their job? The latter is true, but there are clear reasons why and that companies intending to be successful in the next five years need to embrace.

Leadership is…

Much like the marketing, advertising, training, and employee development within your organization are processes, not one time events, leadership is  also is a process, not an event or promotion. Part of the process is to continually progress through stages of development. Piaget has even been cited as saying that only 11% of leaders have the capacity to lead because of their stage of development. You are in charge of your development and how quickly you progress. What are you doing in your leadership learning today to get you to the next stage, or do you think you’ve graduated with enough growth for now?

Learning if Life Long

Harvard, Forbes, and nearly every leadership training firm on the planet tout life-long learning as a key tenet to leadership development. But when a training company says it, it sounds like promotion. When your mentor says “hey, you need to go learn this still”, it sounds credible. From whatever source you’re getting the message, learning is never done. One doesn’t get a promotion and suddenly find themselves filled with knowledge needed to succeed in leadership. Every team, every company, every instance and every failure teaches you something that can be applied to the next adventure. Think you’ve done a lifetime of learning and that’s enough? Find someone with twenty more years of living than you have and ask them if the learning stopped when they were your age. Then watch them smile… and listen.

Growth is Not a Given

We’ve all known managers and colleagues who’ve been exposed to learning and chose not to grow. In fact, we’ve all likely experienced that one lesson that seems to keep presenting itself to us time and time and time again, until we “get it”. Growth is not a given. The opportunity to learn, however, is always there. It’s what a leader does with what he or she learns that makes all the difference.

In the infamous words of Yoda, sometimes you must “unlearn what you have learned” to grow. He also addresses trying to learn by saying “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try”. Lessons in Leadership are everywhere and learning how to lead is a daily process of applying what you learn to grow. Perhaps we could say Graduate Not. There is only learning.

Want a few more resources on a leaders’ life long learning?

Here’s a great article on Forbes about a Leaders Lifelong Learning Permit

Here’s a great book from Harvard Business Review on the Lifelong Learning of Leaders and Change in the 21st Century

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

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