Becoming a successful business leader or CEO is no easy task. The role of leader makes some extraordinary demands of people.
Of course, first and foremost they have to have the capability to make the right strategic and financial decisions. While there are some well understood ‘rules’ to follow in this regard, these rules can quickly become null and void in the rapidly evolving and shifting circumstances that leaders have to navigate every day.
So, CEOs also need flexibility, skills, and courage – not just a knowledge of the expected or ‘usual’ course of action.
At the same time, to become a great CEO, you must also be a compassionate human being. Leaders have to connect to their employees, clients, and increasingly with society at large. And, their to-do list and remit typically gets bigger, not smaller.
The question then is, how do business leaders make sense of these demands? How do they constantly stay fresh and flexible to respond to new challenges?
The answer is that the most successful business leaders are the ones who are constantly looking to learn and develop – those who have made a commitment to continuous, lifelong learning.
Learning as a superpower for leaders
Learning expert Jim Kwik once said: “if knowledge is power, then learning is a superpower”.
Learning is one of the most powerful tools in any leader’s arsenal – and it shouldn’t stop just because they’ve reached the top.
We have the perfect evidence of the power of learning in front of us right now with the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a truly unprecedented crisis – business continuity is at the top of every leader’s agenda, but there are no ‘rules’ for how to respond.
Suddenly business leaders have been thrust into the unknown like never before. As a result, it is imperative that, rather than blindly thrashing around for solutions, they focus on how they can change and adapt – to develop new skills that are required to be more agile than ever before and ultimately lead their business to success.
Finding meaningful learning experiences
But where can leaders turn for meaningful learning experiences?
Today, there are thousands of business courses, seminars or conferences that promise to teach leaders new strategies, make them stand out from the competition, or develop their emotional skills.
However, for all the information these courses promise to deliver – answers to the “who”, “what”, “where”, and “when” questions – the vast majority fail to answer the much more important “how” or “why” questions that leaders need to answer in order to build and grow their businesses.
For instance, if you are trying to figure out the best way to raise capital for your start-up, or to find a working growth model for your business, answers to these questions mostly depend on your context, and multiple true answers may exist at the same time. Often there is no single answer to such questions.
To truly answer these crucial how and why questions there is no substitute for talking to people who have real life experience of dealing with the problem – the people who have raised capital multiple times, or people who have built growth models in the past.
Such conversations are transformational because they are about transferring knowledge and real-world experience, not information. In conversation, rather than in traditional modes of learning, you can far more easily see different perspectives and work out solutions that may not be straightforward.
This ‘human-to-human’ learning and interaction is invaluable to everyone, but particularly to business leaders who are looking to develop their already impressive skill set. There is a reason why networking events and peer group seminars are so popular.
There are thousands, if not millions, of business leaders out there who have had all sorts of experiences – both good and bad. But they are dispersed and hard to connect with.
A community for sharing experiences
Now though, new technology platforms, like Qoorio, are helping to create communities for people to come together, share their experiences and learn from each other. And these platforms are working because leaders have a real appetite to share their experiences and to use this knowledge to help others.
Take Lukas Yla, CEO at CityBee, for example. Lukas is a natural risk taker – someone who once delivered his CV to big companies dressed as a donut delivery guy. Now he helps other leaders who need to adopt some of Lukas’ derring-do – inspiring other leaders to take calculated risks and make bold decisions.
Meanwhile the CEO at Vinted, Thomas Plantenga, is focused on another part of the leader’s experience – the hard decisions. Taking those critical decisions sits right at the intersection between the commercial and the emotional skills leaders have. Thomas wants to help leaders find the balance between head and heart, and deal with these, sometimes painful, situations better.
Indrė Jašelskytė, founder and CEO at Finhoc, is helping leaders to tackle one of the biggest questions out there – how to find the perfect balance and adopt the best practices from large enterprises and start-ups.
A new type of learning for leaders
These three examples are just the tip of the iceberg of people who are using new tools and technology to share their learning through a much wider network.
There are so many people with amazing experiences to share – and we want to turn these experiences into a real resource that business leaders, no matter where they are on their journey or where they are in the world, can benefit from.
Imagine being able to sit down with and of Lukas, Thomas or Indrė – or one of the many thousands of other CEOs with their own unique stories around the world at the push of a button. Tapping into these invaluable human connections as when you needed to.
It would truly be a learning revolution.