Everyone has something to teach you

Learning from others is an important skill at every career stage, perhaps now more than ever, as technological advancements like AI and automation, demand ongoing skill development.

For young professionals, learning an industry and finding mentors to help develop leadership skills are important career investments. However, when I write about the value of mentors, I often hear from professionals that express anxiety about identifying the right individuals in their organization to help them learn and grow. While finding a great mentor is certainly valuable, Nissan’s Peter Smith argues that learning can come from anywhere, and that everyone has something to teach you. He makes it a goal to learn something new every day from the many people he encounters.

Learning from a diverse community allows you to gain a wider perspective on challenges, reducing blind spots. In some cases, particularly in matrixed organizations where employees may operate on several teams, learning from others happens in the flow of work. No matter the structure, a new team provides new opportunities to learn from and, Peter argues, build respect and appreciation for your co-workers, enabling cohesion and fueling teamwork. Knowledge shared throughout and across teams is multiplied, extending the benefits from one person to an entire organization.

In situations where you have fewer opportunities to work with others, authors Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis suggest an intentional approach, making time for curiosity coffees to meet and learn from others outside your normal network. Intentionally scheduling such meetings with a diverse set of individuals will help you gain a wider perspective. Peter notes that there is great value in learning from a diverse community and respecting the differences of others. Different opinions and positions spur innovation. He argues that you should seek such learning every day in ways big and small. This includes taking on assignments that require learning, such as joining a team working with a new technology or taking an assignment in another country. Peter notes that working abroad forces you to learn every day. Experiences like those can present the greatest learning opportunities in a career.

To hear more from my interview with Peter Smith (Senior Vice President, Nissan Americas), watch the video. We discuss the EV transformation of the auto industry, the challenges of managing complex supply chains, and the development that occurs by immersing yourself in different cultures.

Leadership Notes is a blog and video series on leadership.  Through interviews with leaders from both the private and public sector, Johnson examines key leadership issues like empowerment, team development, and cultural dexterity.  The blog also addresses topics such as learning from failure, the importance of friendship, and the role leaders play in developing organizational culture.

You can access the entire library of entries on LinkedIn.

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