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Good Leaders Never Stop Learning

by Gerard Seijts
published in Ivey Business Journal, 2013
Ref 9B13TD08

Good Leaders Never Stop LearningMore than 30 leaders around the world were interviewed by the author to capture their beliefs about what makes a truly connected and effective leader. The aim was to answer a basic question: How do good leaders learn to lead?

This fascinating article shares insights from a diverse range of leaders in sport, business and the military. There are no silver bullets for becoming a good leader, the author notes, but the stories of those he interviewed reveal ten clear pathways for learning to lead, including excelling in a role, taking chances, adapting, being self-aware, and learning lessons from the past.

Interviewees include Bell Canada Enterprises CEO, George Cope, who insists on the need to take responsibility when outcomes are disappointing, and Chaviva Hosek, former head of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, who believes it’s necessary to ‘just find the few things you can do well, and do them, and then let other people do the things they do well, and appreciate what they can do’.

In summary, the author stresses that good leaders follow a challenging and never-ending path of learning, which requires keeping an open mind. Also, having the character to put ego aside and collaborate is now more important than ever before.

Gerard Seijts adds:

It is an understatement to say that the world craves for better leadership. That's apparent from today's headlines alluding to leadership failures in business, government, science and education, sports, the military, and other sectors. But whether the quality of leadership in organisations improves or not depends on the efforts of many stakeholders – families, schools, religious institutions, boards of directors, professional associations, educators, and senior leaders in all segments of society.

As business educators we have the opportunity and indeed obligation to thoroughly examine, understand and commit to the development of good leadership. We must explore a number of critical questions including but not limited to the following: What good leaders do; who good leaders are; and how good leaders are developed. The book Good Leaders Learn: Lessons from Lifetimes of Leadership helps readers to find out first-hand and up-close how good leaders become better leaders through learning. 

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About the author

Gerard Seijts is Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Ivey Business School, Canada. He teaches on several Ivey leadership programmes for executives and has taught EMBA, MBA and undergraduate courses. He has worked with numerous organisations including local government on issues such as leadership, change and organisational culture. This article is based on a book of the same title due out later this year.

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