Come Out at Work: As a Student [video]
Oh, but they aren’t.
Our student days die only when we do, so you may as well come out at work as a lifelong learner.
President Obama agrees.
In a recent interview with ABC News‘s Diane Sawyer, he spoke about his experience at work:
There’re always things that you’re learning in the job. And I have no doubt that I’m a better president now than the day I took office just because you get more experience.
He came out at work as a student! We’re all learning as we go along at work–about our selves, our colleagues, our task, the world. That the highest executive in the United States’ government openly owns his learning process on the job might inspire the rest of us to do the same.
Yet we know that hurdles abound.
For example, at some point between leaving school and starting work, many of us shift focus from learning to performing. Why? This can be the death knell for our engagement, as well as for an organization’s excellence. Some large companies even enforce a command-and-control culture, making it nearly impossible to learn freely on the job.
Research to the rescue. Scholar David Thomas links organizational cultural dynamics with diversity, and ultimately with profits. He promotes the implementation of a “learning and effectiveness” culture, wherein employees are encouraged to learn on the job. From an interview with Kali Saposnick:
[Diversity is more than] race and gender; rather, it is the various backgrounds and experiences that create people’s identities and outlooks.
The interview goes on:
[The "learning and effectiveness" cultural paradigm] asserts that diversity is the bridge between the workplace and the marketplace. “Without the full development of all people in, or available to, our organizations, we can’t fulfill our potential in the market,” says Thomas. “Why? Because we work in dynamic environments whose constantly changing labor and customer pools require adaptation. And much of our ability to adapt lies in our ability to leverage diversity.”
Hooray for Dr. Thomas! He’s totally a contender for the Workplace Nudity Hall of Fame, well, still to be seen.
Warner Burke is another proponent of coming out at work as a student, especially if you’re in a leadership role. Recently highlighted by Jonathan Sapers in TC Today, Burke professes:
[Executives] who seem to really be the cream of the crop are those who also seem to be able to continue to learn.
The article continues:
Over the years, literature in the field increasingly confirmed that learning agility might indeed play a key role in leadership effectiveness–and in particular that one’s learning approach is important to one’s growth and development. But Burke was unhappy with the measures of learning agility he was able to unearth and so decided to develop what he is calling the Leadership Agility Scale.
In time the Leadership Agility Scale may become widely used to predict leadership effectiveness. If you come out at work as a student in the meantime, you’ll demonstrate effective leadership, and that you’re a well-rounded person.
Once again, if President Obama can do it, so can you.
Watch him share his wisdom below:
Date: February 9, 2012