To explain why leading and learning are synonymous, reflect on the words of Eric Hoffer:

In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

In other words, learning is the key to remaining adaptable and flexible in times of change; those who are bound by certainty eventually become obsolete. As leaders should be those who remain ahead of the tides of change, they must by definition be learners. And as leaders should raise others to be adaptable and flexible, they must encourage learning in those whom they lead.

Now, to give this discussion a few more twists…

Leaders are at their best when they are learning, and not when they are teaching. It would seem natural, especially in our culture, to revere the wise leader who knows all. The problem with this, however, is that it is a myth. Leaders cannot know all, not about their organization, their industry, their environment, their people. And when leaders think they know all, they become trapped in certainty and risk becoming obsolete. And when those who follow them think the leaders know all, they risk stifling their own creativity by limiting their knowledge to that of their leaders.
As was pointed out earlier, diversity in ideas is a powerful and natural resource for any organization. Why would any leader limit the creation and sharing of ideas for the sake of being right?
Leadership is not having all of the answers. And leadership is not teaching one set of ideas.

Further, remember the old saying about leaders being born and not made? Well, leaders are not born. They do not have some magic quality that distinguishes them from the rest of humanity. Leaders are made, and they are made from the sum of their learning experiences. The more they learn, the better the quality of their leadership. The more they remain learners, the more the quality of their leadership will continue to improve.

By being in a position of learning, leaders are consistently open to the ideas of others, less concerned with the need to be right or to bear all responsibility and less focused on creating a world in their image. They become more intent on nurturing the organizations they lead and on growing the potential of the individuals in their care.

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Author's Bio: 

Raymond D. Jorgensen, Ph.D. – Director of the Jorgensen Learning Center
Ray spent thirty years in America’s private and public schools as a teacher, coach, department head, collegiate faculty member and school administrator. Today he provides leadership development consultative services to a variety of public and private organizations and coaches the internal JLC leader consultants.

During his three decades of public service, Ray was called upon by various communities to present seminars on both the technical and personal sides of leadership, management and learning. These forays into public speaking defined Ray’s work with various businesses and organizations and ultimately led him to his current position as Director of the Jorgensen Learning Center. Ray has worked with public and private school systems, city and county governments, hospitals, banks, military, physicians’ offices, and a variety of private businesses as a keynote speaker, facilitator, and seminar-workshop leader. Ray’s professional consulting is defining programs as systemic efforts to develop the leadership capabilities needed for any organization to thrive.

Dena Hurst, Ph.D. is a practicing philosopher whose passion is to help individuals and organizations realize their full creative potential. Her approach emphasizes conversation theory, styles and techniques as a means of building leadership capacity in individuals and organizations. Dena utilizes the concept of Conversational Leadership to work with individuals and organizations to create an environment of openness, trust, respect, and accountability, to improve communication.

Dena holds a bachelor's degree in Economics and a doctorate in Philosophy. She has worked for the past 13 years for a university outreach institute in the roles of project manager, project leader, research director, financial officer, and chief operations officer. Her varied duties allowed her to work with government and university leaders at all levels, local and state elected officials, gubernatorial and legislative commissions, and professional associations.

Dena also founded a not-for-profit, EHC, Inc., to foster conversation among scholars around the globe. She has coordinated 3 successful dialogue sessions in California, and Czech Republic. She also volunteers for the Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and and has taught performance management and leadership skills to groups in St. Kitts/Nevis. Learn more at