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It’s intuitive, isn’t it?

Everybody knows that!

There are some things that you either know or you don’t know, and until you know, you know that you don’t know.  Things like how to drive or how to change a tyre on a car, or how to make a cappuccino correctly.

Everything else is intuitive, isn’t it!  Things like how to be polite, or how to tap your foot in time with the music.  Isn’t it?

Once we’ve completed our education and started work then everything else either needs a training course or it’s intuitive because we’ve already received all the training we’ll need.

When I started work it seemed to me that so many things were supposed to are intuitive, yet I didn’t know how to do them.  I needed to ask those around me who were more experienced and had figured ‘things’ out intuitively, or so it seemed to me.  One of those ‘things’ was how to manage a project; after all Project Managers don’t actually do anything do they!  They just manage other people who actually ‘do things’.  

That’s how it seemed to me when I was faced with managing my first project at the first company I worked for.

However, when I moved to a new company they had things called ‘training courses’ that we were expected to take.  Now for most of my colleagues it seemed that these courses were a great excuse for a few days off work staying at a nice hotel.  However, I was really quite excited at the prospect of taking a training course that would help me understand how to manage projects more effectively.  Successful Project Planning and Control (PPC) was the first course I took, along with a couple of other related courses (more about that shortly).  

By the time I had been at my third company for a few years and I had settled in to my role as a project manager, I decided that it was time to update any skills once again, and I found and took a course with the Open University, and then a Professional Qualification with the Association for Project Management (APM).  My company sponsored me through these courses, and I embarked on them with some trepidation since I didn’t want to fail a course based on my current profession.  Fortunately I managed to pass both and learned some new things that I was able to put into practice too.  

So what?

Well, I discovered that, contrary to common wisdom, experience isn’t always the best teacher.  On my journey into project management I had picked up a few bad habits from experience, and I often faced new challenges for which I had been ill-prepared.  These courses helped me to work through some new situations and analyse the possible outcomes before I had to face them in practice.  I discovered that the better way to rephrase that common wisdom is that ‘evaluated experience is the best teacher’, and what better way to learn that from someone else’s evaluated experience.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable of each other.” 

~ John F. Kennedy

Coming back to the ‘other related courses’ I mentioned earlier, I learned that people usually took the PPC course with another related course soon after called Leadership for Business Achievement (LBA).  This was a real eye-opener for me at the time, because I had started to discover: you can manage things, but you need to lead people.  Leadership was a thing, and it wasn’t always intuitive!

So, do leaders have to continue learning?  Does it require regular CPD?  Although some aspects of leadership are intuitive, and much of it is common sense, the so-called (and usually self-titled) ‘intuitive’ leaders I have met are usually those that demonstrate the biggest need for self-development!  Its has been well said that the most difficult person to lead is yourself.

“The greatest obstacle to discovery isn’t ignorance or lack of intelligence.  It’s the illusion of knowledge.” 

~John Maxwell

As an aside, judging by the fiasco being delivered by the political ‘leaders’ of the UK at the moment in the midst of the Brexit journey (where the UK population voted to leave the European Union, and are being led out by politicians, most of whom would have voted to remain in the EU) there seems to be a dire need for some CPD right there!

(It’s interesting to note that much of the problem with BREXIT – BRitain’s EXIT from the EU – is caused by the bit of the UK that’s not in Great Britain!  But I digress.)

John Maxwell gives us some great advice in “Leadership Gold”:

Airline safety instructions tell us that in the event of an emergency we should put on our own oxygen mask first, and there’s no better advice for leaders – to make investment in personal growth and development a first priority.

“You cannot lead others until you first lead yourself.” 

~ Harry Truman

There’s no better way to learn, than from someone else’s evaluated experience!  Today there is no shortage of pop-psychology and it can be tricky to get to the real masters of the art and science of leadership, however they are there to be found, and the lessons learned from their evaluated experience can help us avoid learning too many things the hard way.  

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

~ Isaac Newton

There’s only one thing worse than investing in a team member only to find that they leave the company to go somewhere else, and that’s NOT to invest in your team member, and find that they don’t!

It’s said that whenever the great poet Emerson saw the great essayist Thoreau, they would ask each other: “What has become clearer to you since we last met?”  How would I respond; and how would you respond?

About Roger Fairhead

Roger is a leadership specialist delivering Leadership for Business Achievement through Speaking, Training and Coaching to business leaders and entrepreneurs.

“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.

Leadership for Business also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.