Issue 120 | Jan-Mar 2020

Lessons from the Top

Effective leaders are lifelong learners, shares Mr James Leong (Business ’88), 55, CEO and master trainer of Visions.One Consulting.

Mr Leong graduated from NUS with a Bachelor of Accountancy (Hons) in 1988.

Why is continuous learning important for individuals in leadership positions?

People look up to leaders who can reimagine the future, build trust and provide guidance to navigate uncertainties in a complex and ever-changing environment. To lead effectively, leaders need to be strategic thinkers and go beyond just solving present problems. This requires a broad world view and additional skillsets beyond what one has been taught in University. 

In particular, with disruption of old business models gathering momentum in the new economy, more than ever before, leaders need to be equipped with commercial and financial savvy. This will help them understand numbers and bring a fresh perspective to improving the agility of the organisation. 

What advice do you have for people who have yet to embrace lifelong learning? 

It’s never too late to start. Attending seminars and training are two ways. With mobile devices, reading e-books, listening to podcasts and watching e-learning videos are also convenient ways to learn. This could be done while waiting for public transport, food to be served, or a friend to show up at an appointment.

The idea is to get started and build a habit. Even if it is just 10 minutes a day, do it. Over a week, you would have had 70 minutes to learn new knowledge or acquire new skills — without the need to make a major lifestyle change. In one year, this amounts to over 60 hours. To stay relevant, we need to keep learning and acquiring new skills, and be students in life as well as of life.
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