“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
No surprise here — the concept of lifelong learning is as popular as mom and apple pie, especially among the progressive business professionals at the core of the TalentCulture World of Work community.
But it may surprise you to discover that old-school Henry Ford is the source of that quote. Arguably one of the most successful business leaders in American history, Ford was relentless about elevating machine efficiency to a management science. And he died more than 60 years ago, when most baby boomers were still only a gleam in their parents’ eyes.
Nevertheless, imagine if Ford had tweeted during this week’s #TChat: His philosophy of continual learning would have aligned with the sentiments of our community’s participants, who shared more than 2,900 tweets this Wednesday — ideas and opinions about “Leaders Young and Old” and the dynamics of reverse mentoring. In the brushstroke of a single blog entry, it’s difficult to do justice to the breadth and depth of perspectives exchanged. A common theme did emerge, however, from the 16.4 million impressions that echoed across the Twitter universe:
The Top Takeaway
Leadership is (appropriately) tied to competence and results – independent of age or seniority.
This is an organizational imperative in today’s fluid and highly competitive business environment. What’s more, as technological innovation continues to accelerate, today’s desirable skills are just as quickly becoming outdated.
So what are the implications for today’s business leaders, who must span generations to engage and develop the best talent for a sustainable future? “The Leadership Challenge,” the popular management book, reminds us that “The Best Leaders are the Best Learners.” In other words, by modeling teachable behavior themselves, leaders not only grow professionally, but inspire others to do the same. It’s a next-generation extension of the principles established by business legends like Henry Ford, and it’s a valuable lesson that any of us can learn — at any age.
Looking for inspiration? That may be why you’re at #TChat, our forum and community for industry leaders committed to continual peer-to-peer learning. We’re grateful for this now nearly two-year adventure, a microcosm of today’s work world. We rely on digital tools to connect, communicate and collaborate 24-7, on-demand. And it works.
I have no clue how old or young my peers are, and frankly, I don’t care. I’d rather focus on key issues and shared interests. I evaluate insights based on their own merit. My impression of #TChat participants is shaped by the quality of their contributions and the street cred they develop within the community. Age and rank aren’t even on the radar.
Why do I return each week? This forum helps me quickly find relevant, useful ideas — and the smart people behind those ideas — without having to slog through the formalities of organizational structure and protocol. #TChat is a living laboratory for transparency and access in the networked age. And I gain immediate value from participating in this grand experiment.
“Learning is doing and doing is knowing. So do.”
It stands to reason that if learning is an equal-opportunity endeavor, then leadership is, too. Perhaps this week’s #TChat could add another layer to Kevin’s quote:
“Leading is learning. Learning is doing and doing is knowing. So do.”
Just imagine what Henry Ford would say if he could see us doing this #TChat thing we do!
Did you miss the preview? Go here. We again thank Mark Babbitt (@YouTernMark) for guest moderating this week and for bringing along his super-smart team from YouTern (@YouTern) — e.g., @YouTernDave and @YouTernErica — to tweet alongside all of us. They brought the awesome, and you did, too: Check out the slide show below of your many insightful tweets. We wish you all a wonderful weekend and look forward to seeing you at next week’s #TChat.
#TChat INSIGHTS: Full Smorgasbord of your Tweets: Leaders Young and Old
Storified by Sean Charles · Thu, Sep 27 2012 01:34:51