My New Leadership Column

About Leadership Learnings, a new column from getAbstract CEO Thomas Bergen.

As an entrepreneur, CEO, husband and father, I learn much daily while encountering many points of view. I learn because I’m curious. And, well, I learn because I can’t stand still for long. If I felt comfortable idling, getAbstract wouldn’t exist (or wouldn’t exist anymore), my wife would be long gone, and my children would have found other caregivers. I’m lucky that I’m a naturally curious person and that other people prefer the presence of guys like me to that of idlers, even in Switzerland. 

I am not alone. All people are curious and eager to learn. However, due to enormous differences in living conditions and opportunities, the possibility of discovery has limits.

Countless initiatives in the world of work today, propagating “lifelong learning,” indicate that in the past, companies did not provide the right environment to enable employees to grow beyond dull, predefined processes. “Learning? Yeah, fine, but please do it after work!”

When it comes to “lifelong learning,” we have an enormous amount of catching up to do, on a personal, organizational and societal level. We discuss “tools” and “skills,” learning concepts and platforms. Sometimes we even talk about learning mindsets. But because they can’t be sold and are often vaguely defined, they enjoy a lower priority in business discussions. Leaders ranting about the “joy of discovery” and “innovation” still operate as they were once taught in university forty years ago – simply because they feel more comfortable with it and have no idea of their position as role models.

Actual learning gets lost in the buzzword bingo of a rapidly growing digital market, and many organizational promotions of learning initiatives ring strangely hollow. As a result, lots of them are wasted time, wasted ideas, sleepy discoveries, and disillusioned HR departments.

I want to change that. Because, from my perspective, without “skin in the game,” all efforts to stay on track growth-wise remain anemic. So, I recently took a few hours to step back and think about how I can help bring learning to life in organizations, especially for other leaders. I want to help better use the tremendous opportunities that lie dormant in knowledge creation and application. The result is some short (and longer) articles that provide – often very personal – insight into the essential elements of learning leadership.

I’m convinced: They are the levers that can first “turn on” entire companies regarding innovation capability. Leaders who not only develop an almost obsessive hunger for learning but also act on it and sufficiently reflect on their achievements are role models and examples for the entire workforce.

Over the coming months, I’ll ask uncomfortable questions about leadership competencies, tell stories about my findings, and share the theoretical basis for understanding them in the form of book summaries on each topic.

My posts in the getAbstract Journal will alleviate some fears about learning and invite imitation and discussion.

I want to start with a ten-part series on a rare commodity that every leader should be more concerned about in these times of hybrid collaboration, talent shortages and increasing volatility: Trust.

Find all columns here.

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