Great Leaders

Great Leaders Are Lifelong Learners

By Steve Adubato

The best leaders are those who don’t think they have all the answers. They keep an open mind and an open spirit that says, “I want to learn more about how to deal with difficult and challenging situations.” They ask for and listen to input and guidance from people on their team, and then make a conscious effort to ensure that their team feels valued and a part of the larger mission and direction of the organization. Simply put, the great leaders are those who are lifelong learners. Consider the following tips that will help any leader who wants to get better every day:

Be open-minded: Asking others for their input is the first step, but truly being willing to consider their advice is a bit more challenging, especially for those who believe they have all the answers. As effective a leader as you may be, the feedback you get from others may be something that you hadn’t thought of on your own. That is the way learning works.

Seek leadership development, training, and executive coaching: Just like an athlete needs a professional trainer to point out areas for improvement in a golf swing, pitch, or running stride, every professional can benefit from having a coach. If an individual coach is cost-prohibitive, you can sign up for a group seminar or online training to hone in on a specific leadership skill you have been trying to improve. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Never stop reading: Whether you enjoy online or journal articles regarding your profession or topics connected to leadership, such as how to improve the way you lead your meetings or how to deal with difficult conversations (or if you are like me and prefer a library full of leadership books) reading is truly essential to becoming a lifelong learner. And, better yet, when you read a great article or book, share it with a friend or colleague so that they can continue learning as well.

Seek opportunities to grow: Whether personally or professionally, lifelong learners make a commitment to constant improvement while challenging themselves. Whether it is looking for a growth opportunity in your area of expertise, joining a board, learning a new language, or taking up a new hobby (there is a direct connection between wellness and being a lifelong learner) the key is to continually find ways to maximize your time rather than wasting it scrolling through social media or binge-watching the latest TV series.

Practice makes progress: That’s right, I didn’t say practice makes perfect, and there is a reason for that. While we all wish we could be perfect at something, perfection doesn’t exist. Rather, practice makes progress. The key is to constantly grow as you reach new milestones, but at no point in time should you stop looking to improve in some way. Follow your passion as you take your skills and tools to the next level.

Learn from your mistake: Too many of us dwell on a mistake and get caught up in negative self-talk or spiral thinking. Instead of dwelling on the mistake itself, reframe the narrative in your mind and ask yourself some key questions; “What exactly went wrong?” “What could I have done differently that could have created a different outcome?” “What can I learn from this experience that will change the way we deal with similar situations in the future?” This approach will improve your leadership and create better results for your team. Simply put, being a lifelong learner is all about creating a positive mindset and attitude and seeing every situation as a path to success. 


Steve Adubato, PhD, is the author of five books including, “Lessons in Leadership.” His sixth book, “Lessons in Leadership 2.0: The Tough Stuff,” will be released in summer 2023. He is an Emmy® Award-winning anchor with programs airing on Thirteen/WNET (PBS) and NJ PBS. He has also appeared on CNN, NPR and NBC’s Today show. Steve Adubato’s “Lessons in Leadership” video podcast with co-host Mary Gamba airs Sundays at 10 a.m. on News 12+. For more information visit