In about a month ago I was asked to propose a toast at a graduation ceremony and as it is often customary in doing the honours one has to say a few words. I chose three points to make namely: humility; importance of family and community support and lastly the importance of continuous learning. For purposes of this blog I would like to explore the third topic i.e. continuous learning.

Brand Pretorius, (In the driving seat: lessons in leadership; 2013), identifies continuous learning as one of the key attributes of effective leadership. He makes the point that “our capacity to grow determines our capacity to lead”. He quotes other respectable leaders like Mahatma Gandhi who shared the following wisdom: “Live as if today is your last day, learn as if you are going to live forever”. He also refers to Warren Buffet – “We need to go to bed every night knowing a little more than what we knew when we woke up that morning”

There are many leaders who have pronounced on the subject of continuous learning and this does not necessarily mean academic or formal studies (although there is ample room for this as well). It means opening yourself up as a leader to learn new ways of doing things and learning to enrich your knowledge base with new things, discoveries, approaches and innovation. This unfortunately cannot be done unless you adopt what many scholars call the growth mindset. Dr Carol Dweck describes a growth mindset as an “understanding that abilities and intelligence can be developed”.

As a leader in a continually challenging and volatile world you would agree with me that in order to make the cut or dare I say, survive – you need to be well ahead of your game and you need to understand that what worked yesterday might not necessarily work tomorrow. This does not mean that you should not embrace the wisdom of yesteryear or experience but it is embracing the past, the present and the future. The one way you can bridge this gap is to adopt a different mindset – one that believes in growth and continuous learning.

To share some of the tips for continuous learning:

  • Reflection – where am I in my career, business etc.  Is this where I would like to be? What works and what does not? What could I do differently and what could I do more or less of? Do I need to change my approach to get a different result? I find this gives me incredible insight into my leadership journey and helps me to constantly calibrate a better path.
  • Read – you cannot read enough as everyday someone somewhere is generating new knowledge and approaches to resolving the world’s problems. Many successful people have one thing in common – they read and some even study!!!! We are very fortunate these days there are a number of applications available on our Smartphones and Tablets that we could collect mobile books e.g. Kindle, Blinkd, Audible etc. Of course, for some people nothing beats the feeling of turning the page on a hard copy book with your fingers – whatever mode you use – just READ.
  • Feedback – seek feedback from people you trust and value their opinion and as well as getting 360 degrees assessment from colleagues and peers. Many organisations have only one-way performance appraisals, which, are often done once a quarter or year if lucky and they are often one-dimensional. There is nothing wrong with asking people’s opinion on your performance – this will give you incredible insights and areas of improvement and growth – how did you experience me in that meeting? What do you think about my idea? In you view how can I show up effectively in the world? Etc.
  • Embrace failure – at some point in our lives you will fail and this is nothing more than an opportunity to learn and do things differently and try new approaches and ways to do things. This might include improving how you did it the last time. Many successful leaders today have one thing in common and that is at some point in their career/business lives they have failed or were rejected – do not despair – rise again and come back stronger and as they say – learn from your mistakes.

On the 24th of June 2017 I am hosting a workshop on Mid-year Reflections and Accelerate your leadership success in 2017 and beyond. This is an opportunity for you to take a minute and look at what has worked, what needs to be improved and recalibrate you leadership journey. Should you be interested please contact us on +27 12 998 7337 or

Happy learning

Pam Yako

Leadership Coach

‘Helping women leaders to be attuned and find their inner goddess’

+27 12 998 7337 or +27 82 550 5225


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