Academic journal article Adult Learning

The Role of Leadership in Lifelong Learning

Academic journal article Adult Learning

The Role of Leadership in Lifelong Learning

Article excerpt

"If you are planning for one year, grow rice. If you are planning for twenty years, grow trees. If you are planning for centuries, grow people."

--Chinese proverb

Learning has transformed from a luxury to a necessity. Industries are changing at an overwhelming pace, and they are increasingly demanding broad-based knowledge workers. In addition, the advent of the information age and the intensified level of competition have combined to place incredible expectations on companies.

As a participant in business and information technology, I have observed that people are replaceable unless they can adapt to change rapidly, In today's knowledge economy, individuals not only have to obtain the necessary foundation skills and keep them current; they also need to acquire new knowledge and skills, if they wish to maintain their status quo.

Learning Is Indeed Lifelong

The process of individual learning, across a person's life span, is what we call lifelong learning. Learning can occur in both a formal and an informal setting. A formal setting is provided by an educational institution. Today, virtually all universities have a division of continuing education that offers degrees and certificate programs designed for lifelong learners. Informal settings are all other places where learning occurs, such as work (on-the-job training, experience), home (reading, watching a documentary, installing a new faucet), or social gatherings (conversation with friends). Other forms of informal learning can occur almost anywhere and anytime. Most of us learn something new each day.

Lifelong learning is both a privilege and a responsibility Some of us are fortunate enough to have access to complex means of learning, but having access is not enough. We must also seize the opportunity to learn and embrace it, which implies a great deal of commitment. Learning doesn't just occur, we choose to learn.

Leadership Is Necessary for True Lifelong Learning

Leadership is more than just finding ways of surviving in the current status; it is also about how much you can deliver. Leaders who are willing to share their knowledge and experience with others are more likely to inspire growth and stimulate the emergence of more leaders within the group, which in turn benefits the organization as a whole. In my view, this is THE critical issue if the organization is to thrive in today's fast-paced environment.

Involvement in lifelong learning is a responsibility that leaders have to themselves and those they lead. a learning environment that encourages employees to grow into future leadership roles of their own has no losers. Employees thrive because they feel supported; the organization benefits from the emergence of new leaders who know the company from the inside; and empowered employees tend to be more loyal to the organization in the long run.

I have seen effective leaders who are actively engaged in developing policies and strategies that lead to continual growth and development of individuals and the organization itself. In my examination of leadership and learning, I have come to the primary question: what can a leader do to develop other leaders?

Tips on Leadership and Lifelong Learning

* Make lifelong learning part of the vision of the organization and communicate that vision. Educating and retaining the best people in the company should be an explicit goal within the organization. As Dr. Hagerty, president of Franklin Pierce College said during a recent interview, the finances will follow if institutions have a vision and programs to support that vision. Many companies let the finances run the company, and in so doing, lose track of the big picture. A company without a vision is like an airplane with no predetermined route cruising through the night.

* Support continuing education. Define an educational policy in your organization, and follow through. …

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