In an article from the Harvard Business Review, Bill Taylor discusses John W. Gardner’s message that leaders must be committed to learning and bettering themselves. Gardner, a Stanford Educator, and prominent American intellectual harped on what he called “personal renewal” in a 1990 speech delivered at Mckinsey & Co. This phrase, personal renewal, which was ingeminated by Gardner while on the podium dealt with the need for leaders across industries to dedicate themselves to this continual learning in order to be effective. Although Gardner more than a decade ago at the age of 89, his message is as relevant and significant as ever.
At the Gardner recognized the fact that many of people in the labor market are “staler” and “more bored” than they themselves know. He preached that this boredom and static learning that is abounding the millions of workers who comprise the backbone of the economy is plaguing these corporations themselves. However, this phenomenon is not limited to the United States but afflicts the entire industrial world.
Business and boredom are by no means mutually exclusive. In fact, many in the workforce, young and old, are dead set on their methods, habits, and attitudes. He instructed those in the room, who were made up of current and future leaders of corporate America, that it “is what you learn after you know that counts.” Taylor reiterates that the most effective leaders he has been around throughout his career are the ones whose thirst for knowledge is insatiable. He also mentions Roy Spence, author of The 10 Essential Hugs of Life, and his take on this subject. Spence notes that every day, every minute is filled new experiences as a child. In order to remain young, one should seek out new experiences or tasks that they have not yet mastered. He suggests that those in management surround themselves who have disparate perspectives and backgrounds to help spur this continual learning. This process certainly isn’t easy. Leaders must not become complacent, but be personally committed to continually pushing themselves in unfamiliar situations even after reaching positions of power.