When Leaders Stop Learning

He was in his mid-70s but about to challenge the thinking of the rest of his fellow leaders who were younger. He opened his notebook and began to read aloud the paper that he had carefully thought through. The subject was controversial and that alone made some in the gathering very nervous.Learn & Lead

However, “Steve” was a lifelong learner. He was not afraid to think. Maybe just as important, he was serious about learning.

In the recent 2011 Willow Creek Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels said “Leaders have an insatiable appetite for learning. They have to learn. Leaders are relentless learners.”

Yet, far too often key leaders remain in their roles long after they have stopped growing and learning. While others are growing, developing, and maturing, these people remain stagnant. They sometimes become obstacles instead of contributing to the health of the organization.

This is tragic.

It is not that these leaders make mistakes.

It is not that these leaders don’t know what to do.

It is not that these leaders are not smart enough.

What is tragic is that these people remain in their leadership roles long after they have stopped learning. When this happens, those who depend on their leadership are the ones who lose.

Does someone look to you for leadership? You may be a husband/wife or a father/mother. You may be a teacher or a supervisor. You may be a manager or the owner of a business. You may be a preacher, pastor, minister, elder, or any other kind of church leader. Do others look to you for direction, guidance, or encouragement?

Learn something today.

Get serious about your own learning and growth.

Trust that when you are learning, you are in turn encouraging others to continue to learn.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “When Leaders Stop Learning

  1. Jim, another wonderful post. One thing I would add is that one can stop learning at 35 years old, as well. It’s easy to get really comfortable and lose one’s thirst for growth–spiritual, intellectual…whatever. Really good stuff and a great reminder.

    • Tim, thanks so much. Great point that you make regarding the way a person can stop learning, even at 35. It is interesting (and scary) how a person can get comfortable and then shut down. Thanks Tim!

  2. How true. we get to a certain point where we’ve “arrived” — and we got there through hard work and determination. but then we quit trying so hard — and all of our effectivness is gone.

    Great post

    • Thanks David. Good point. Sometimes we do get to a point where we we think we’ve arrived and then back away from the very qualities that served us well in the past.