4 Ways Leaders Can Keep Learning This Year (And Every Year!)

4 Ways Leaders Can Keep Learning This Year (And Every Year!)

Author Sean Morris: http://learnfit.org/sean/

Leadership isn’t a rank you achieve. It’s a skill you constantly hone. And for community leaders in charge of a job so important as creating pathways for youth to walk in success, perfecting your leadership is a job that’s never done. Whether it’s becoming a better communicator, refining your youth engagement skills, or improving your personal habits, there’s always more to learn to become a better leader. For Operation New Hope mentors and anyone else who wants to improve their community leadership skills, these learning opportunities are a great place to start.

Hone Your Soft Leadership Skills

Soft skills are key for all leaders, but especially those who work with youth. Use these tips from Forbes to improve your soft skills and become a stronger leader in the process.

  • Build better personal habits. Whether it’s learning to stay calm in stressful situations or improving your time management skills, constant self-improvement is key for anyone in a leadership position.
  • Become a better listener. Listening helps leaders gain trust from the people they serve as well as learn useful insights to inform their leadership role.
  • Assess your emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is where a leader’s people skills come from, and it’s an essential soft skill for today’s leaders.
  • Not sure where you need to improve? Ask for feedback. Honest feedback is difficult to ask for, but it’s an essential step for personal and professional growth.

Read Books About Leadership

For a big picture look at what it means to lead — along with plenty of practical tips — turn to books from leadership experts like Brené Brown and Stephen R. Covey. These four books will help you change your habits and mindset as a leader.

  • The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, examines case studies to extract the practices necessary for successful leadership.
  • Covey’s 1989 best-seller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, details seven ethics that leaders should follow in order to manifest their vision.
  • Brené Brown has several outstanding books on leadership, including the popular Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts, which explores themes of courage and vulnerability in leadership.
  • Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, by author Laura Vanderkam, is a must-read for anyone who struggles to juggle the demands of leadership and everyday life.

Listen to Podcasts That Inspire You

Whether you need motivation to keep going in a challenging role or tips on becoming your best self, podcasts are the perfect resource. Listen to these motivational podcasts for bite-sized information and actionable tips from expert guests across all types of fields.

  • The School of Greatness is a podcast designed to inspire you to greatness with high-profile guests and techniques for dreaming bigger and making an impact.
  • Can you change your life by changing your mindset? That’s the question that hosts Kathryn Bryant and Julian Illman explore in Changeability, a weekly self-improvement podcast that you can consume in under an hour.
  • The Art of Charm from hosts AJ and Jordan Harbinger offers tips on charisma, connection, and self-improvement from a wide variety of professionals, authors, and coaches.
  • For quick tips and insights, listen to Where There’s Smoke from Brett Gajda and Nick Jaworski. This podcast covers topics like gratitude, willpower, and criticism with actionable tips to help you improve.

Attend Online Courses in Leadership

Self-directed learning is great for digging into leadership concepts, but when you want to perfect a particular skill, look to guided lessons. Luckily, you don’t have to spend much to find educational content online thanks to massive online open courses, or MOOCs. Here’s what to know before enrolling in your first MOOC.

  • Many MOOCs can be audited at no cost, but you may need to pay in order to earn a certificate or credential. Paid access also comes with additional features like instructor feedback.
  • Some platforms, like edX and Coursera, even offer degree programs. These degrees are flexible and affordable compared to traditional degrees.
  • You don’t have to pay to access high-quality content, however. Many MOOCs are developed in coordination with top universities, including Ivy League universities like Harvard and Columbia University.


Learning can be formal or informal, take a few minutes or a few months. What’s more important than how you learn as a leader is that you keep learning. By constantly striving for self-improvement, you can rest assured that you’re giving your best to the community you serve.