Great Leaders Gain Knowledge

In our just-released book Great Leaders Grow, Mark Miller and I explore how great leaders make the conscious choice of continuous personal growth. As we say in the book’s introduction:  Growing for a leader is like oxygen to a deep-sea diver: without it, you die. Not a physical death, of course—but if you stop growing, your influence will surely erode and, ultimately, you may lose the opportunity to lead at all. 

One way great leaders can grow is to gain knowledge. Gaining knowledge doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a long-term commitment you must make and then put into practice year after year.

Gaining knowledge generally comprises four elements. The first is self-knowledge. This is a matter of looking in the mirror and being aware of your own strengths and weaknesses as well as how your temperament and personality mesh with your environment.  Great leaders have a high degree of self awareness. Assessment tools such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the DiSC Profile, or Gallup’s StrengthsFinder 2.0 can help you understand what makes you tick as well as how to better relate to those around you.

Equally important is gaining knowledge of others. Spend time getting to know the folks around you at work. When you work on building relationships, you can go beyond the superficial to learn how people like to be recognized, how they prefer to communicate, who their families are, and what really matters to them. The more you know about your colleagues at every level, the more effective you can be in working with them to attain common goals.

Gaining knowledge includes learning about your industry.  Read up on the history of your industry and do some research on what’s happening today. What’s true now that may not be true in the future? Also, take a closer look at your chief competitors. What are their strengths and weaknesses?

Finally, gain knowledge about the field of leadership. Explore the profusion of books, blogs, and other information available about leadership to discover trends and best practices. Take a look at your current skill set and see what skills other leaders have that you might need to work on.

So, what will you do this week to grow through gaining knowledge?  Leave a comment and let me know!

13 thoughts on “Great Leaders Gain Knowledge

  1. I loved this post as I do think that working on developing myself is necessary to continually increase my quality of life. I have used podcasts for many years to listen to new ground breaking discoveries. Lately I have applied some new knowledge in mental training to improve how I communicate with myself, my family and business connections.

  2. I could not agree more regarding the theme in this blog. Over the last 15 years I have spent considerable time learning about leadership, not simply the concepts and theory but attempting to align to my own beliefs and skills, as well as practicing the art. I am far from perfecting the art but I know that I am a better leader as a result of learning more about myself, others, my industries and leadership itself. I am able to apply this at work and at home as it is becoming part of who I am, not just what I do. Put another way I have learned that there is considerable ‘power’ in effective leadership and related knowledge – how I have and can use this to help others is one of the most fulfilling parts of my life. Steve Riddle

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  5. Ken:

    Thanks once again for making us grow; I believe the latest release, like your others previosuly, shall be a must-read.

    Thanks for listing the areas of growth. Just to add that a key source of growth liaising with those who are already in the business, learning from those who have excelled in the same fields and networking with core champions.

    Tom Dienya

  6. Hi Everyone,
    I totally agree with the post, I´m a new manager (1 year) and my team is very small but still difficult to me to perform like a great leader. I thing I need to be more involved with my team, doing individual meetings, seting up individual goals, motivating them and following the main activities. Another thing I really need is to improve my network with others sectors in the company, with our partners and with customers this is something I really need to me engaged.

    Rafael Montes

  7. I agree with your statements, gaining knowledge is a great start. Applying what your learn as you learn it is equally important. Using the knowledge gained to grow and help others develop is truly what makes great leaders.

  8. I just started the book last night and just finished the Gain Knowledge portion. So far this is excellent. I really like the articulation of the Leaders concept that they do not need the title, everyone can and should be leading. I believe that high performance teams are, among other things, made up of leaders inclusive of the individual contributors. At that level, they can proliferate knowledge to team mates, grow themselves and grow their team members.

  9. I would like to know the value of connecting with others who work in different industries. I totally understand the value of making connections in your own industry but I wonder if I am using my time productively if I connect with people in other industries as well.

  10. GOOD DAY; Am new on this site, am week in both physical and academycally on my stydies.pls how may i overcome all this and become new born, be of useful in my society and the entire world.

    • it doesn´t matter how old are you keep reading ken´s library, read, learn, memorize, apply in your life, move on, lead yourself, never give up, the first step keep reading, my suggestion for you according with your feeling, “FUlL STEAM AHEAD” talks about life pourpose.

  11. umm… well the first thing that I would do is STOP PROCRASTINATING !!!!
    it’s the biggest sh*t that I have in me.

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