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A Schooling on Business Leadership

2 min read

To be a great leader, you can’t just have subject knowledge without management skills. You also can’t be authentic without knowing yourself. A great leader needs all three qualities.

Clark Aldrich is a renowned education thought leader who designs and builds learning simulation programs for corporations, governments and the military. In his book, Unschooling Rules: 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know About Schools and Rediscover Education, he makes the case for wholesale change in the way we teach our children and has many interesting and provocative ideas that apply equally in business leadership. It feels paradoxical that someone known for using technology (which feels on the surface to be impersonal and passive) should be so passionate about the need for emotion, engagement and experience in effective learning.

Aldrich breaks down learning into the following three types and contends that focusing on just one of these elements misses opportunities for complete learning:

Learning to be. This focuses on helping someone understand who they want to be. Reflection on your dreams, strengths and values are essential to this.

Learning to do. The focus here is learning the practical skills that can be applied in the world. It involves hands-on experience and practice. This can be practicing leadership and innovation just as much as practicing the piano or carpentry.

Learning to know. This is more the traditional focus of learning. It is the acquisition of knowledge through books, research and lectures and is the forte of most educational institutions from kindergarten through graduate school.

So what can we learn as leaders from Aldrich?

  • Be. Great leaders know themselves and reflect frequently on who they are and what they stand for.
  • Do. A leader must practice the art of leading every day in the same way a pianist or tennis player practices his or her craft.
  • Know. Leaders should keep learning. Good leaders are also learners who thirst for new information and ideas.

It’s a nice reminder: to be a great leader, you can’t just have subject knowledge without management skills. You also can’t be authentic without knowing yourself. A great leader needs all three qualities.

Have you read any interesting books or articles recently that got you thinking about leadership?

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