5 Steps to Being a Better Learner

Photo by DaveBleasdale (Creative Commons)Photo by DaveBleasdale (Creative Commons)The Problem With Leaders

Here’s the problem with most leaders.

We think we know everything.

The reality, however, is that we don’t.

The problem is that when we think we have all the answers—that we know what our community needs; wthat we know what kind of music people want; that we know what kind of staff person we need; that we know what the hot new ministry is that will get people to our church—when we think we know everything, we tend to make bad decisions.

I wonder how many ministries have failed because the leader thought he or she had all the right answers.

What Should I Do?

Proverbs 9:9 says this:

Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

A wise leader is open to learning what he or she does not yet know. Here are five steps to being a better learner:  

1. Admit that you don't know everything.  Believe it or not, you really don't know everything.  And you don't always need to be the expert.  Admitting this is the first step to becoming a better learner.

2. Ask lots of questions.  Jim Collins, the author of books like Good to Great and Great by Choice, says that leaders need to change their statement-to-question ratio.  In other words, rather than making a bunch of declarative statements (in meetings, for instance), start asking more questions.

3. Read.  This is a no-brainer.  My one piece of advice is this.  If you haven't yet discovered audiobooks, you must start listening to audiobooks!  I've read a total of 55 books so far this year, and 26 of them have been audiobooks.

4.  Look to others to fill in what you don't know.  You are surrounded by people who have expertise in all kinds of areas that you have no clue about.  In your church.  In your workplace.  In you school.  Even in your family!  Letting others participate in leading is part of what it means to be the body or Christ, anyway, doesn't it?

5.  Listen.  In my opinion, this is where we tend to miss the mark most of the time.  We don't really listen to people.  When someone complains.  When someone makes a suggestion.  When someone has an idea.  We may hear the words, but we aren't really listening.  And we're not really listening to what God might be saying through that person.

These are just five keys to being better learner. No doubt we could add a bunch of other ideas to this list.

What steps would you add to this list? Which of these five steps resonate with you? Which ones are challenging for you? 

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