Anything you really want, you can attain, if you really go after it. – Wayne Dyer
When young leaders seek out leadership advice from me or from one of my team members, they often ask about whether or not they need to pursue some kind of advanced degree like a masters, doctorate or even a law degree to further their leadership.
My answer is usually the same: education is a gift that you give yourself. It is not a golden ticket to the top of a corporate ladder and it is not a symbol or stamp of good leadership by any means.
If you look at the current list of Fortune 500 ceos, many of them do not have advanced degrees. It doesn’t mean that they didn’t work incredibly hard to get where they are. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t incredibly talented and intelligent. It just means that that many of them don’t have an advanced degree.
Now, some industries do require advanced degrees, specific designations or continuing education credits, in which case you must fulfill those requirements in order to succeed or advance, but many or even most professions do not.
What is absolutely a requirement for these top ceos, and all successful leaders, is that they are continuous learners and readers. Whether it is a formalized process or something they commit to personally, great leaders are always learning.
As I coach, mentor and discuss leadership, it is clear that the cream that rises to the top are those leaders who choose to learn, and then take that knowledge they’ve gained to execute well in their particular sectors. Reading is not enough. Even learning is not enough. If you are just going to learn, that makes you a good student. To be a good leader, you have to take that knowledge you’ve learned and put it to practice through innovation and execution.
Then, if you really want to take your leadership to the next level, you should teach what you’ve learned to someone else, likewise giving that next leader the gift of education.
Question: What can you do this year to learn something new and then implement that knowledge into your leadership?
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