ASK ALAN: Great Business Leaders Are Lifelong Learners
ASK ALAN is a nationally syndicated business idea & advice column for entrepreneurs & small business owners, currently reaching 7+ million business leaders semi-monthly.
Lifelong learners make the best decisions!
One item that distinguishes truly great business leaders from others is their penchant for lifelong learning. They have more knowledge at their disposal and understand what it takes to make the best, decisions for their business. In my previous column, How to Make the Best Decisions for Your Business, I wrote about how “brainstorming” issues with others, is great way to arrive at the “best” decisions for your business. What I am going to share with you now is why, “who” you brainstorm with can make an even bigger difference in the quality of your decisions.
In pursuit of learning
The primary ways professional businesspeople gain knowledge, after entering the world of business, is via their own experiences, adult education, advanced degrees, and reading business-related books. I have an advanced degree and have read tons of business books.
However, my favorite way of learning is participating in brainstorming groups. I am an experiential learner and believe there are many others like me. I love to surround myself with bright successful people open to sharing their experiences/advice vicariously, through their successes and failures. In that forum, I become a sponge for knowledge.
Types of groups available to brainstorm with?
There are three basic types of brainstorming groups business professionals can join to brainstorm with others. The first is friends and family. The second is industry-related groups. And lastly, peer-mentoring groups.
Who you brainstorm with matters
If you ask friends and family members for advice to help you make business decisions you will be left short changed. This group typically lacks advanced business knowledge. It would also be unusual for members of this group to have the level of experiences you would find helpful, for the decisions you face. Industry-related business & networking groups can also be a source to tap. However, these groups are usually limited by their inability to think outside the box. Plus, caution needs to be exercised, so you do not give away competitive advantages. And more importantly, you would not want competitors to learn about your company’s weaknesses.
The type of group you want to brainstorm with
I have found that the best type of group to learn and seek guidance from, is a non-competitive, confidential, peer-mentoring group. In continuing my own pursuit of lifelong learning, I recently spent a week, immersed in a course that teaches professionals how to host and lead these types of groups. The non-competitive nature of membership assures safety and confidentiality. Additionally, a high degree of diversity ensures thinking outside the box.
In conclusion, the pursuit of knowledge for life helps make you wiser. And as it comes to making the “best” decisions for your business, you want all the wisdom and advice you can muster.