by Steve Adubato, PhD

One of the characteristics of a great leader is making a commitment to being a lifelong learner. Growth is a conscious decision. Exceptional leaders decide they want to grow and learn. They want to understand different ways to be more effective at their craft. Following are practical tips that will help you develop as a leader and learn something new every day:

--Decide to see each “failure” or “loss” as an opportunity to learn. When things don’t work out as planned, great leaders ask; “What exactly went wrong?” “What could or should I, as a leader, have done that could have created a different outcome?” and; “What can I learn from this experience that will change the way we deal with similar situations in the future?” Taking this “learning” attitude and approach can’t help but improve your leadership and create better results for your team.

--Never stop reading. Especially, about leadership challenges and important leadership topics such as how to improve the way you lead your meetings, how to deal with difficult conversations, or how to negotiate with a challenging adversary. Create a “leadership library” of resource material that you can constantly refer to when looking for a different perspective on dealing with challenging leadership situations.

--Seek out mentors. It would be great if more experienced leaders just organically or naturally found you and offered their help. But it doesn’t always work that way. Instead, proactively identify individuals who you believe have insight and perspectives that would be beneficial to you as a leader but, more importantly, who care enough about you and your career to invest the time and effort in helping you grow. Take their advice and never take them for granted.

--Host forums and invite experts who have a different perspective on important industry issues and topics. Don’t just set them up for your team. Attend them. You and your people will learn by doing this and it will also send a powerful message to your team members that you believe learning is essential, not just for them, but for you as well even though you hold a higher position in the organization.

--Ask other leaders about their most significant leadership lesson as well as the most difficult challenge they have faced. I’ve been doing this and have gotten responses from over 200 leaders over the past year. As a leader, you don’t have to be writing a book about leadership or be an anchor on public television to do this. You can do it on your own. Ask a select group of smart leaders who you know and trust and you will be surprised at the candor and insight that you get back. I guarantee you will receive important leadership lessons in the process.

Ralph LaRossa, President & COO, PSE&G shares his keys to learning and celebrating success.