This past weekend I attended an amazing seminar where there were several speakers. I learned a lot from each one of them. In all honesty there was one who really did not resonate with me at all. He had great content but his delivery left me kind of cold, his style was not mine at all. This on top of a conversation about can we learn from people we don’t respect rally got me thinking about how much information we can learn from people we don’t like.
As leaders it is important to keep learning about your organization, your industry, your customers and how to be a better leader. This may mean taking the time to learn from people who are not in your current circle of friends and colleagues. In fact, I would challenge you to take the time to learn from people you don’t like or are unsure if you would like.
Why learn from people who you don’t like or respect? First they will have a very different view of the world which will broaden your view. You may not ever agree with their ideas or opinions and that’s okay. However, if you take the time to listen and understand their perspective it will give you information about how others see things and you might find new nuggets of information that help you move forward. Additionally, by looking at things from a different perspective you may uncover new solutions or ideas on how to make your products better or more valuable to your customers. Lastly, you may discover new uses or customers for your products or services.
If you only learn from people who are like you or who hold similar ideas and values you are missing out on new aspects of the world. The wonderful thing about the current times is how small the world has become through technology. Having the ability to connect and relate to others is now at our fingertips. To make the most of these connections it is imperative that we take the time to listen to others and hopefully find common ground. This allows us to develop deeper connections with others. In a leadership role you will have many occasions where you will work with someone you really don’t like and yet you must find a way to work with them. Learning to connect and find that common ground is a key to being successful. This skill can be developed by looking around you and finding ways to learn from everyone who crosses your path.
You can learn from anyone and everyone. It may be that you learn what not to do or how not to act. It may be that you learn a new way of doing things or new behaviors. Or it may be that you learn to see the world in new ways through new eyes. All of these are valuable lessons and may come from people you like and respect or from people that are distasteful to you. Any way you look at it, learning is the key to growth. As leader make learning a part of your day, each and every day.