The Learning That Got You Here Won’t Get You There

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Jerry Saalsaa Photo
Interim CEO

3 minutes

Why leaders need to take a sustainable approach to their ongoing development—and how they can do it

As a lifelong learner, I love the quote (and book title) by business thinker Marshall Goldsmith: “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.” 

If you think about that from a talent development perspective, it means the learning that will move our leadership (and our organizations) toward future success will be different from the learning that got us (and our organizations) to where we are now.

How can you understand what to learn next—and how to do so sustainably, while still delivering on all the other organizational priorities? And what are the business benefits of emphasizing leadership learning? I have some thoughts for you.

Future-Focused and Sustainable Leadership Learning 

Here are seven straightforward things you can do today to start developing a plan for your future-focused and sustainable leadership learning:

  1. Understand where you are going in your career and what is important to you.
  2. Understand the vision of your organization and what it needs from you as a leader.
  3. Identify gaps in your competencies that could prevent you from delivering on the vision.
  4. Create an individual development plan for yourself (and everyone in your organization). 
  5. Set realistic expectations.
  6. Be bold and accountable with your time.
  7. Identify what you can and should stop doing that will position you for success in developing your future self. 

Why Leadership Learning Matters

Leadership learning doesn’t matter solely because it helps leaders like you lead better. It also matters because being a learning organization can drive better business outcomes.

According to this article from Forbes, “As we strive to innovate faster and better around our brands and products or services, we can’t forget to innovate around ourselves—to be enduring students, adapt and develop new skills, absorb new media and experience new things. 

“By reviewing and being curious, consistent students, we not only build our skills, but we can serve as mentors and teachers,” the article continues. “Nurturing and inspiring innovation in our organizations and companies is not just our jobs, it’s our obligation, and the only way to help ensure continuous growth.

The Forbes article backs up these ideas with data: “While L&D (learning and development) has already been shown to improve employee retention and job satisfaction,” it says, “… a 2020 MindTools report found that companies with engaged learners are 12% more likely to increase on-the-job productivity and 28% more likely to respond faster to changing market conditions—which is pivotal in today’s fast-paced digital market.”

Credit union leaders like you need a learning approach that helps you discern what to learn next. Knowing what to learn next will pave the way to your next career milestone and help cement your organization’s continued success.

CUES Consulting can support you in developing a talent development strategy for your entire organization—including yourself. When you make an overall investment in talent development, you not only ensure that a great leader of today will be a great leader tomorrow and five years from now, but also that everyone in your shop will be developing in ways that will fully serve members’ evolving needs on an ongoing basis. 

Jerry Saalsaa is interim CEO of CUES. Since joining the team in 1997, he has led CUES’ finance, technology, human resources and strategy teams, including serving as VP/finance and technology and, most recently, as SVP/chief administrative officer. Saalsaa’s leadership has built a foundation that has enabled CUES to become a more sales- and market-driven organization. He holds a B.S. in accounting from Upper Iowa University, has earned certificates in negotiation from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and has attended all three segments of CUES’ CEO Institute.

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