A Leadership Learning Regimen
The heat index borders on the sun’s surface. Company phones are ringing off the hook, and you can’t get to all your service agreement members’ problem calls today. It’s also the first day for your new service manager, Bob. Can you say deer in the headlights?
Bob used to be the company’s top service technician. Guess who else is a deer looking in the headlights. You! Now you’re officially weak in two positions. Bob, the service tech, and now Bob, the first-time manager, without a lick of management training or preparation.
As the company owner, could there have been a better way to prepare Bob than feeding him to the ravenous lions?
Leadership is Influence
I wrote here in September that leadership is influence. Every person in your company has the potential to be of positive influence on your customers, community, coworkers, and their families. The best way to increase one’s influence is to pursue basic leadership education. I’ve found that John C. Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, is the perfect way to begin the journey of increasing one’s ability to be a positive influence.
Leadership, Learning, and Neuroscience
The field of cognitive neuroscience provides insight into our continuing journey. Neuroscience studies the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. Cognitive neuroscience is the study of the influence brain structures have on mental processes. It focuses on the biological processes that underlie human cognition.
Our brain creates connections between neurons (nerve cells) when we learn something new. When the message is received by the receiving neuron, a connection is made. If what we continue to learn is no longer relevant to this connection, the connection weakens. This explains why we can’t remember some random fact from 6th grade.
These connections strengthen, however, when what we continue to learn is related. Our brain looks for these existing connections to embed new information.
Bob has no management or leadership experience. As a freshly minted manager, everything Bob learns is new. There are no neurons to attach all of this information to. Put simply, not much, if anything, in Bob’s experience as a technician prepared him to be a service manager.
To be a manager, Bob has to start somewhere.
Create Strong Connections
Our learning journey begins when we encounter new information. A new connection between neurons is established. If we want to enhance our learning and develop skills, we need to add to and reinforce these connections.
To illustrate this process, let’s use your company’s time machine. Send Bob back two years in time. Armed with this new knowledge about connections, neurons, and learning, you enroll Bob in a John Maxwell The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership mastermind.
Bob reads Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership book. A connection between neurons is created. Then Bob learns additional information in the mastermind. The connection strengthens. Next, a discussion between participants ensues. The connection gets stronger. Like pumping out an extra rep while weightlifting, Bob performs the suggested application. Boom! His muscles expand.
Remember, though, Bob is still a service technician.
Bob isn’t aware of neurons and learning. But he loves the idea of positive influence and how much help it can be to others. So, he nurtures his interest and continues to study leadership.
Back to the present 120-degree heat index day reality. Although Bob has much to learn in the tactics of service department management, he has more than a toehold on leadership. He’s able to navigate, lead, and support his team through the heat wave, shedding that dear in the headlight glance of bewilderment.
One More Set
While that extra rep increased Bob’s ability to lift a heavier weight, real progress comes by way of an additional set of lifting: reflect on the experience.
One way to reflect is to write in a journal or Word document. Design prompts to assist in your reflection.
- What did I learn?
- What did I like or not like about the experience?
- What might I do differently going forward?
- How did today’s experience make me feel?
- Why was it essential to the growth of my company?
- Who else needs to know?
Like the work that an Olympic athlete puts in, your learning and related experience can carry you to the gold medal. It will take commitment, work, and time. Stay with it, and you’ll develop one of the most enviable leadership traits: a strong intuition.
All those years spent learning, cultivating, and reflecting on leadership experiences stoke your subconscious with invaluable substances. You’ll be able to flex those muscles and produce invaluable insight when it comes time to make decisions.
A confident Bob leads your service team through the dangerous heat spell. All because you had the foresight to involve him in the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership basic leadership training while he was still a service technician.
Our brains need existing neural structures to enhance our ability to ingest more complicated information. We need to cultivate our education with varied modes of learning and strengthen our intuition through reflection.
Otherwise, we might as well let the Bobs of our world stay transfixed on the headlights until the ravenous lions finish them off.
Prepare your people for the road ahead.
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