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Leadership Development: 5 Best Practices for Learning a New Skill

Knowing the best ways to learn a new skill can help you better lead an organization.

If you walked into an office from 20 years ago, you would be amazed at how differently people worked. In the intervening years, computer technology, internet connectivity, smartphone ubiquity, and other innovations have transformed the workplace and the skills we need to do our jobs. Now imagine how much more will change in the next 20 years and ask yourself: Am I ready? Can I learn the new skills I’ll need to keep up with change? Will others in my organization be able to learn those skills, too?

It remains to be seen what those skills will entail, but one thing is for certain: If you know how to learn, you’ll be prepared to master whatever is next. In fact, if you understand the learning process well enough, your leadership skills can help others grasp the skills of the future.

Leadership Development: 5 Best Practices for Learning a New Skill

What Are the Best Methods for Learning New Skills?

Make Sure You’re Ready

If you’ve never changed the oil in your car, you’re probably not ready to learn how to rebuild an engine. Nearly every skill we master requires us to have mastered lower-level and/or complementary skills first. So before you try to learn a new business skill, assess whether you’re at an advanced-enough stage where learning the skill is actually feasible.

Get the Right Assistance

We all learn in different ways. Some of us do best in classes, some of us prefer to learn through reading, and others need to go through hands-on trial and error. The trick to learning a new skill is knowing which way you learn best. You can then seek out the right resources to help you master a new skill, whether that means signing up for training seminars, buying how-to books, or earning a graduate degree.

Test Yourself Along the Way

When learning a new skill, you have to take in a lot of new knowledge over the course of days, weeks, or even months. Your ability to retain each individual piece of knowledge will determine how successful you are with learning the overall skill. That’s why throughout the course of your learning, you should take time to review the parts you’ve already learned. By refreshing your memory frequently and making sure you’re not forgetting any individual pieces of knowledge, you can increase your ability to successfully learn a complex skill.

Learn the Why, Not Just the How

Top business schools agree—there’s a difference between knowing how to do something and understanding why you’re doing it. The former is mimicry while the latter is mastery. In the instance of building a car engine, most of us could eventually learn how to follow a diagram and connect all the parts. But what happens if the engine doesn’t start? If all we can do is follow a diagram, we would be stuck. But if we understand why everything is connected the way it’s connected and how it all functions together, we would know enough about the overall system to seek out solutions. When you take the time to understand the whys within a new skill, you’ll be much better prepared to tackle complicated challenges later on.

Be Patient

Most skills of value are not easy to learn, which means you shouldn’t get frustrated if learning is taking a lot of time. Successfully acquiring a new skill involves dedication and a willingness to take baby steps. Rushing through the learning process or abandoning the effort gets us nowhere. Instead, you should work consistently, rest regularly, and keep persisting.

How Can You Help Others Learn New Skills?

With the rapid changes in our workplaces, businesses are in need of leaders who can help workforces grow their knowledge and learn new skills. To help meet this need, many of the best business schools are offering an Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. An MBA is a great choice if you want to develop comprehensive leadership skills that cross functional areas and increase your capacity to influence people and lead them to a shared goal.

Thanks to the innovations in online learning, many of the top business schools are making earning a master’s degree in business more convenient than ever before. Instead of attending classes at a specific time and place, an online MBA allows you to complete coursework from home and on a flexible schedule you can fit around a full-time job. If you’re a working professional, earning your MBA from an online university makes it possible to advance your career without taking a break from your career.

If you want to help others acquire the skills they’ll need to keep up with a changing world, you should consider acquiring some new skills yourself. With a Master of Business Administration—and the help of online education—you can learn everything you need to lead others forward.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online Master of Business Administration (MBA). Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,