Top Execs Have This Trait in Common. You Can Too…Starting Today!

July 30, 2015


While the average American typically reads one book a year, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies read an average of four to five books a month. Surveys by N2growth indicate that executives who feel they are not achieving the level of success they are capable of, are also usually  “too busy to keep up with their reading.” Other studies show that active readers are likely to have annual incomes more than 5 times greater than those who spend little or no time reading.

Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, advises: “ Never stop learning…. The strongest leaders are those who are lifelong students.” William Taylor, Author and Co-founder of Fast Company magazine, says: “The very best leaders I’ve gotten to know aren’t just the boldest thinkers; they are the most insatiable learners.” And Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in an interview:  “The thing I value and look for in leaders really circles around the notion of: Are they creating clarity and energy; are they a learner? If you’re not curious and open to learning, raising your own game, admitting your own mistakes, then I think you stop doing useful things.”

There are many paths to learning and professional development, including reading, observation, experience and practice, live training, online instruction, interpersonal interactions, etc. Great leaders and CEO’s absorb knowledge like a sponge, seeking out information and models in other fields, developing new skills, fine-tuning and questioning what they know already.  Continuous learning is critical because as technology and innovation accelerate entire industries and professions are revolutionized. One way to survive and thrive today is to learn faster. New information and skills help us sidestep a tendency to rely on outdated or formulaic thinking. The challenge for leaders at every level of the organization is to out think the competition and to be open to new information that offers a unique view of the future.

How to get started:

  • Seek situations and people who are unfamiliar or have a different viewpoint. We learn the most when we interact with people who are the least like us and when we place ourselves in new situations. However, most of the time, we interact with people most like us and place ourselves in situations that are familiar and comfortable.
  • Make a commitment, to push yourself to grow and challenge yourself to learn new things every day. Read not only business publications but also science or travel or literary materials. Take on new devices and technologies.
  • Make it a point to learn from failures. Denying or being blind to what’s not working has derailed many an executive.
  • Assess and learn from successes as well and be open to re-learning. Even when “what” you are doing or what results you want are the same, be open to changing the “how” it is done or achieved.

The Administrative Professionals Conference and Executive Assistants Summit offered admins and assistants the opportunity not only to upgrade their skills and knowledge but also to expose themselves to new viewpoints, perspectives and tools.

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American Society of Administrative Professionals

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