“How did you learn to do what you do?”
I’ve asked that question every time I’ve met an effective leader. You can
imagine the range of answers. Some leaders give credit to courses or books or
programs. But every leader I’ve ever asked has mentioned learning from
experience. They learn from their own experience, of course, but they learn from
the experience of others, too.
Here are some ways to learn from other people’s experience.
Look around and spot the great leaders you have access to, and then observe.
As Yogi Berra reminded us, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” Use the
leaders as role models.
Work for a great boss if you can. The earlier in your career you can do this,
the more powerful the experience will be.
Talk to your peers about how to do things. Why make mistakes when you can
learn from the mistakes of others? Why struggle to find effective leadership
methods when you can narrow your choices to methods that work for others?
Read books that share the actual, in-their-own-words, experience of effective
leaders. A good recent example is Adam Bryant’s excellent, The Corner Office.
Boss’s Bottom Line
Remember that no matter how good an idea looks, you will have to adapt it to
your situation and personality.