5 Steps to Lifelong Learning for Leaders!

Learning should never stop with the receipt of a diploma or a degree.  It should be a lifelong process.  This is especially so for leaders who take charge in their industries.  Individuals who aspire to be a leader, advocate, or working professional should take as many steps as they can to be a lifelong learner.

Why is this so important?

Because, the world is consistently changing and growing.  Technology is rapidly shifting, and all of these complex changes affect how various industries operate, and how this can change the career landscape.  To truly stand out and prepare for growth in an industry, individuals should continually educate themselves.  This can provide the competitive edge to take your leadership position, company, or industry to new levels.

Here are 5 steps to lifelong learning!

1.  If growth in your field requires a higher level degree or certification, go for it!  Gaining an education is more accessible than ever as colleges and universities add programs that cater to the busy schedules of professionals.  Utilize this opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge you need to be competitive for growth.

2.  As a leader, one of the best ways to learn is to listen to those you lead.  Ask for your employees opinion, and actually listen to what they have to say.  People will follow those they respect, and they will respect you more if you treat them with respect.  This means valuing them.

3.  Subscribe to periodicals, magazines, or other services in your industry.  This is where you will find hot topics, studies, or cutting edge information that could give you the insight you need.

4.  Regularly evaluate your skills, strengths, and weaknesses.  If you know where your weaknesses are, you can fix them.  For example, if you are looking for a job or for a vertical or lateral move, and you know you have a deficit in specific software, learn how to use it.  There are textbooks, websites, and YouTube videos that can teach you everything you need to know.

5.  Set aside 30-60 minutes each day to read about your industry.  It is amazing the amount of information that can be ascertained from this minimal amount of reading each day.  It can keep you well-informed and ready to handle complications, grow as a leader and professional, and make necessary changes to keep up with technological advances.  It can set you apart from those who are left behind.  Knowledge is power.

Take these steps to be a lifelong learner and an incredible leader!

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10 Paths to Becoming Positively Productive!

Everyone hits a rut in life.  Perhaps a period of stagnation, unemployment, post-graduation job searching, and so much more.  Life is consistently throwing challenges our way, and it can be overwhelming at times.  It is easy to become lost in the shuffle.  It is easy to become glazed over going through endless job postings, altering resumes and applications, and updating information.  It is definitely easy to get stuck in a job with no growth or lateral change.

How can you get through this period and make positive changes?

The answer is productivity.  Yes, going through job postings is productive, but there are alternate forms of productivity you should consider to not only help you become more appealing to prospective employers, but also to enhance your life, skills, and experience.  Here are some of the best things you can do to become more productive.

1.  Find your strengths and skills, and blog about it.  Connect your blog to social networks and job sites.

2.  Connect to like-minded individuals.

3.  Take free courses through Coursera or other online sites to keep your brain active.

4.  Take classes at a local college and perhaps consider a certificate or higher degree.

5.  If you are in a field where your personal work matters, create a stunning portfolio.

6.  Learn any computer programs you are not familiar with, especially ones you see regularly in jobs you apply for.  YouTube has many videos that can help, and you can get books from Amazon.

7.  Stay in touch with your network because you never know who may have a tip for a job.

8.  Remain patient.  It can be difficult, especially if you are unemployed, but everything takes time, and if you lose patience, you lose positivity, and this could come across in an interview.

9.  Reach out to friends, co-workers, fellow graduates, or anyone you know who is in a similar situation.  Support is crucial.

10.  Believe in your skills and develop the ones you need so you can sell yourself in job interviews and applications.

Being productive when it comes to these stationary periods of life will actually help to get the ball rolling.  People notice those who work hard and who are willing to put in extra effort to continue to expand their skills.  Be the person employers can’t live without.

Don’t Wait For Opportunities, Make Opportunities!

It is easy to conjure up the vivid dreams of a hopeful future, and to play through scenarios of opportunities as they come knocking on your door.  The problem with this, is the complacency that fills your life when these opportunities do not arise.  You may fall into the belief that there are no opportunities out there, accept your life as it is and become comfortable with it, and you may find little self-worth in the process.  The fact is, opportunities are everywhere.  Instead of waiting for them, you have to realize that they are waiting for you.

opportunities

If you do not seek them out, you may never move beyond the basic life you are living.  You have to become a mover.  The kind of person who looks for the needs and wants in their life, and finds ways to fulfill them.  This requires a great deal of determination, and a desire to work as hard as possible to make your dreams come true.  This is not for those who are lazy, or those who with to skim by with mediocrity.  This is what is born from innovators and leaders.  This requires a unique ability to learn from the lessons and the experiences that have made you who you are, and to build on them.

futureNow is the time to make this happen.  Discover the passions you possess, and you will be on your way to determining what will make you happy.  Then, seek it out.  It may require a return to school, a change of jobs, learning new skills, or a change of attitude.  It may require risk, and you will have to decide if the risk is worth taking.  Just remember that each person who created a successful business, designed products, wrote books, or built a successful career, had to work hard to get there.  There is no easy way to true success, it is a road that must be paved with failures, lessons, and tenacity.  Make your opportunities, instead or waiting for them.

Maintaining a Positive Perspective in Social Media!

With the growth of social media, there has come a clash of personal and professional spheres.  I have noticed a large amount of people lately, who happen to have a job they are not happy with, take to social media to vent about their misfortune.  I have seen family problems aired all over Facebook and Twitter, and I have seen people share things that do not place them in a positive light.  Now, I am all for freedom of speech and maintaining liberty, but I also recognize that with this freedom comes consequences.

If you are seeking employment, you should maintain social media pages which reflect the professional side of yourself.  You should find ways to express the positive aspects of who you are, and the skills you possess.  I can honestly say that employers can and will look at your social media pages.  Not all employers, but do you really want to take the risk?  Having known quite a few people who take part in the hiring process, they take this seriously because they want individuals working for them who will represent the values their company embraces.  Potential candidates for a job position should have social media pages that present themselves as a hard-working, trustworthy individual with a moral compass.  Employers do not want to see whiny posts about life, they want to see someone with a positive outlook!

Now is the time to clean up your social media sites because even current employers may look at your pages before considering you for a promotion.  Your social media pages are a reflection of you as an individual. Scroll through your page and try to determine if this is the person you wish others to see you as.  Maintaining a positive perspective in your social media pages as well as in your daily interactions can help you to become more confident and come across as someone others can have confidence in.  Be mindful of how you present yourself in all areas of your life, and you will find it has an affect on your career and relationships!

Notice the Potential and Strength of Others!

Being a leader takes great skills. However, leaders often neglect to see the potential in others.  To lead is to inspire and to instill a desire to achieve potential in others.  If you want to have an impact, notice the people around you, the people who work with and for you.  When you see strengths, point it out to them.  Some may not even realize the possibilities they have building inside of them, and it may take someone like you to help them see it.

The important thing to remember is that everyone has special skills and talents, and many of them go through life without ever realizing their potential.  If these people make up a team, and you help them to realize their strengths, you will have a more valuable team, and you will earn the loyalty of others.  People want to be seen, and when you walk through the day without taking a few moments to truly see the people you connect with, you miss out on an opportunity.

Do not view others as just a worker, view them as a human being, and a valuable asset to your team or organization.  When you change how you perceive the people around you. your view of them will change.  Then, incorporate your ability to pay attention to details.  This is how you will find each remarkable quality that makes others special, and this will make you a better person, and a better leader.  Notice others, and they will notice you!

The Payoff of Perspective!

Everyone has an important asset that is often overlooked, but if highlighted and used properly, it can bring potential payoff.  This great asset is perspective, which is unique to everyone.  We all have a different past, culture, experiences, and views that provide a distinct way of viewing the world.  We can see potential, solve problems, and create products or content that are based on our history.

This can be negative if you have had poor experiences and translate them to new situations without proper evaluation.  It is key to learn how to take experiences, good and bad, and learn from them, while also creating the ability to discern the differences between past situations and new ones.  If you can find a way to utilize your unique perspective while also being innovative in the present, you could build an incredibly bright future.

Challenge yourself to pay more attention to how you view specific situations, and why you think the way you do.  This will help you to gain control over your perspectives and the resulting reactions, and allow you to be more creative in how you handle yourself in the future.  Find ways to best use your experiences to shape your actions, and it will payoff for you, making you stronger and more useful in your career.

Communication is Crucial!

To lead others, to inspire, to write, to speak, to manage, to work with, or to do anything, you must be able to communicate.  In fact, communication is a key aspect to success overall.  If you cannot convey your ideas to others, you cannot lead them.  From words, to writing, to body language, and facial expressions, we communicate our thoughts, needs, ideas, and perceptions regularly.  However, it is a skill to communicate effectively.  This type of communication takes time and work to improve.  It requires you to be able to read others, to know how to shift your tone and expressions for specific situations.

One of the greatest ways to improve your communications skills is to read a great deal, and to have conversations with a diverse group of people.  Attention to detail is critical to picking up subtle cues that will help you to reach an individual.  As a leader, or in a position at work, this will help you to work with the diverse corporate climate or to reach people you would have been unable to clique with previously.

Do not underestimate the power of the written word and the ability to edit your work.  Bad grammar can remove credibility quickly and create a problem for you in your career.  Know how to write well, and how to sound professional.  A good first impression often comes from a written communication, like email, and can make or break you in a professional setting.  The most important thing, is to seek improvement.  If you know your communication skills need some work, do not put it off.  Opportunities may open up, and you want to be able to present yourself in the best way possible.

Servant Leadership and Success!

One of the keys to great leadership is the ability to focus on the growth and success of others.  When you follow leadership principles that allow you to focus on giving to those around you, you will find that success follows.  This type of leadership style can be beneficial in many ways.

1.  We all want to succeed.  However, we also need to be able to have a strong group of people around us who can also succeed.  It is like the phrase, “a team is only as strong as its weakest link.”  If there is someone who needs more skills to grow in the workplace or to be successful, by mentoring this person, you are essentially strengthening the outcomes of your team.

2.  To be a strong leader, you must command respect from others, but the respect that is earned is worth so much more.  When your employees or team knows you will be there to help and guide them, and that they can trust you, you will earn more respect.  This will bring about positive, professional relationships that lead to more communication and better team dynamics.

3.  Giving time and attention to the team you work with can help you to grow and learn as well.  Even the best leader can take lessons from those who work with them.  Each team will be different and the learning possibilities are endless.  In fact, teams can change drastically just by replacing one person, or from project to project.  This focus on the team will also help with observation skills and enable a more intuitive approach with others in the future.

4.  When a leader spends more time focusing on themselves, the bottom line, or success, they miss the details, and while they may be able make strides and find success in the short-term, they may lose out in the long-term.  There are so many elements that make up the whole picture of success, and a good leader will focus on how they can give to the team and enhance the growth of the team as a whole.

5.  Servant leadership is the best way to help the team participate and it will enforce the growth of individual and group skills, as well as help the team reach their full potential.  There is less limitation, therefore, more growth.

While there are many leadership styles, and every leader has a specific way in which they operate, in many situations, servant leadership should stand out as a highly productive way for a leader to guide and encourage a team.

Rewards of Relatability in Leadership Roles!

Everyone has a concept of what they feel makes a good leader.  There are books, guides, blogs, and seminars, but to be a good leader,one must have many qualities. In fact, good leaders often have natural skills mixed with learned ones.  I have found the most effective leaders are those who are relatable.  People need to feel like they can connect to a leader on some level because if they cannot, how can this person understand them.

There are many ways to come across as relatable, but it boils down to a natural ability to connect to many different types of people through discussion and storytelling.  It is the way in which a leader expresses their innate humanity.  With so many people feeling disconnected from management and other leaders, they need more who can look them in the eye, smile, and make them realize they are heard.  Leaders need followers just as much, if not more, than followers need leaders.  A leader needs to be open, and willing to show who they are as a person.  They need to let others into their lives because it is often the challenges of a personal nature that have influenced them to grow and find success on a personal and professional level.

Storytelling is one of the most effective ways for a leader to reach others.  It is the act of speaking their truth, even the ones that are the most difficult to talk about.  It can be a realization of failures or the loss of someone close that inspired them to take the steps to become who they are today.  It could be where and how they grew up that made them realize they needed to push themselves to make a better life.  Every leader has a story, and their stories are the tool to reach others on a more personal level, by showing their humanity.  If you are working to hard to lead others, do not be afraid to relax a little and show the personable side of yourself.  Let people see who you are and where you came from because the odds are that there are others who need to hear it to be inspired.  Be relatable, and you will be rewarded.

How to Know if you are on the Right Path!

Sometimes, we hit a point in our lives where we wonder if we are on the right path.  Perhaps you have been let go from your job, maybe you are stuck in a position that does not make you feel valued or challenged, or maybe you are just feeling like you are not happy.  If any of this is true for you, you are probably ready to make a change.  In fact, if you are not happy or working on something that makes you feel like you are being true to yourself, you should consider making a change.

Now, this does not mean that you should impulsively leave a job that you have found security in because it makes you unhappy.  This means you may need to re-evaluate where you are in your life and where you want to be.  Once you know who you are and what your goal is, you need to make decisions on how to get there.  With the challenges in the economy and job market, security is important, but you can keep your job while making changes, gaining education, negotiating with an employer, or seeking opportunities.

The main thing is that you find what you are passionate about and pursue it.  It may take more work on your part if you have to start a book, build a business, or go to school while still working, but the people who find success are those who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and put in a hard day of work.  You will know when you are on the right path because you will feel proud, confident, and happy!