Learning is not a solitary activity, especially for high performing leaders. John Baldoni, in an article for HarvardBusiness.com titled Never Let Your Ego Stop You from Learning, describes how people like Shaquille O’Neil (basketball) and Jim Collins (management guru) who are at the top of their professional games have sought the help of teachers to improve their abilities in areas in which they want to perform at a higher level. Baldoni writes:
Most often you cannot receive more schooling, especially when dealing with critical issues that are fast-breaking and in which there is no body of formalized instruction. You will need to figure things out for yourself. For most leaders figuring things out is second nature; it is way they have arrived in positions of leadership. But the best leaders are those that are never afraid to ask questions. Rather than a question being a sign of ignorance; it is admission ticket to learning as well as a good way to build rapport and trust with colleagues.
The best leaders know that to achieve excellence they must have interaction with people who can help them clarify their thinking, give them performance feedback, and challenge them to continuously improve. This can be a trusted co-worker, a mentor, or a leadership coach. Whoever it is, we need someone to ask us tough questions that will challenge our thinking, get us outside our comfort zone, and help us adopt new, more effective ways of doing things.