Magazine Article | May 4, 2015

How Leaders Can Promote Continuous Learning In Today's Organizations

Source: Life Science Leader

By Tanveer Naseer, award-winning, internationally-acclaimed leadership writer, keynote speaker, and author of Leadership Vertigo

When it comes to effectively leading organizations in today’s 24/7 global economy, it’s clear that the days of command-and-control leadership are well behind us. Instead, what’s needed are leaders who promote a continuous learning environment where employees can grow, evolve, and do work that matters. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much for us to create such conditions in our workplace. To begin the process in your organization, here are three tactics you should employ:


When our brain performs tasks or makes decisions, it creates waste by-products such as beta-amyloid and other metabolites, which can reduce our brain’s ability to concentrate and efficiently perform tasks.

Given how we have a limited daily reserve of energy at our disposal, our brain tends to protect us from using it too much by employing shortcuts in the form of habits, where we perform these tasks with minimal thought or effort. Unfortunately, this also leads to us making assumptions of what can be done or even whether something is worth pursuing.

As such, if we are to ensure our organization remains adaptive to external changes — as well as to promote our ability to innovate — we need to ensure our employees are challenging their assumptions of what’s possible so we might discover improvements and new opportunities for our organization.


One thing we’re all hardwired to do is to pay more attention to the things we perceive as being negative. As a protective measure, this neurological mechanism makes a lot of sense in how it helps to keep us out of harm’s way.

Unfortunately, it’s this same neurological mechanism that causes many of us to avoid failure because we’ve trained our brain to view failure as a negative outcome. And naturally, when we’re focused more on avoiding failure, it’s harder for us to be more open to learning.

That’s why it’s important that we help our employees to shift their focus away from avoiding failure to learning why certain approaches are inefficient and how we might do things better going forward.


One of the core psychological needs that research has shown we all share is relatedness — where we feel a connection, a bond, and a sense of commonality with those around us. By fostering an environment where our employees share what they’ve learned, we can use these moments to strengthen the sense of community and belonging that will help them continue to look for ways for us to do better than we do today.

By creating a continuous learning environment in our organization, we can inspire our employees to believe in the vision that defines the organization because they know they will acquire the skills and experiences to help make it a reality.