Thoughts on Leadership is the brain child of Paul Bridle. This is the place that Paul shares his monthly thoughts.

Know or Willing to Learn

Posted: March 29th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Culture, Leadership, Management, Social | No Comments »

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You’ve caught me looking at a book, trying to find a bird, we have a beautiful bird flying around the building and I was wondering what type of bird it is.  This brings me to this month’s Thoughts on Leadership, because there is a lot of difference between wanting to know something and being willing to learn.  Many people have a desire for knowledge, desire for knowing something but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are willing to learn.

Take me for instance, I do enjoy birds and when I see a bird that is interesting, I like to know what type of bird it is.  I have no desire to be an expert on birds.  I have no desire to go bird watching.  I am just really interested in the different types of birds.

This is useful in terms of business these days.  Why do we want to know something?  Is it something that we need an in depth knowledge of, or is it something that we just need to have some general information about?  Would this be useful to us?

Most important from a leader’s point of view is understanding your people.  There are people out there who just want to know.  They are thirsty for knowledge about things, but there are ones that want it for the wrong reasons.  In other words, they are desperate to know anything and everything and they have got to know what is going on and what is happening and all these sort of things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a genuine desire to learn.

The desire to learn is what is really key, particularly in certain areas of your business.  For example, you may have a situation where you want somebody to know something specific about the product, the wiling to learn bit is ‘how’ they are able to explain that product to the client.  So, if there if you have somebody who is quite happy to know about the product, but are not willing to learn ‘how’ to sell it to the client, then they are maybe the wrong person for that job.

As a result, the key is really getting to understand that there is a difference between ‘wanting to know something’ and ‘willing to learn’ and both are needed and at times we are going to need to do one or the other.  Have we got the right person for the right situation?

We have just started a business, which is in the sales training arena and it’s about “yes, we can give you the knowledge to things” but taking it that step further and getting you to be able to apply it, that requires you to have a willingness to learn and many people have a desire to know but not necessarily a willingness to learn.

This month I am asking you some simple questions here:

I want you to think about your own people and once you do, look at some of the people you’ve got working for you and ask yourself, “Is this somebody who has a desire to know something or is it somebody who is really willing to learn?”  The depth comes in the willing to learn.  The knowledge is just a veneer, very useful, very important and in some cases – all that’s needed.  However, in other cases, it is the depth that’s needed.  In my case, knowing about the different types of birds, that is great, but the depth would come in actually understanding them, their habits, etc. so that I could have an in depth knowledge of them and I could recognise them when I saw them and realise when they are out of place or where they might be nesting or whatever is required.

Think about it in your business.  What do you want people to know and what do you want them to be able to apply with that knowledge?  When you have those two differentiators then start to ask yourself the question with regards to some of your individuals; ‘Is this somebody who just wants to know or is this somebody who is willing to learn?’  If they only need to know and they are willing to know, well then that is great, you can deal with that.  But if they are somebody who you needed to be able to apply and go a stage further, then they have to have a willingness to learn.  The learning takes them from the knowledge into application.  It is that different.

I hope that has given you something to think about this month, I will go into more detail on the website, if you want to know more but there is something for you to go and think about this month.

I hope you are having a good month and a good year!

See you next month,

Bye for now!

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