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How leaders and their teams thrive through continuing education

by Ana Lopez
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After probably years in college and excitedly looking forward to a professional life, it’s easy to sympathize with an businessroundups.org’s hesitation about returning to the classroom. But being driven by excellence and stability, whether you like it or not, also means nurturing knowledge and skills as leaders, as well as those of staff members. Simply put, to grow careers, businesses and overall satisfaction, it is sometimes necessary to dive back into the school pool.

Why further education could be the right choice for you

Significant benefits of continuous learning include creating value, career satisfaction and engagement, as well as closing college skills gaps and reducing turnover.

Let’s look at the value first: the more you know and can do, the greater your value to all parties: investors, partners and employees. Diversified and up-to-date knowledge enhances the ability to identify opportunities and solve problems.

Keeping your knowledge and skills current also puts you in the best position to explore new business opportunities and lead authoritatively. By doing this, you position both yourself and (ideally) your team as experts to stay competitive in the marketplace. If you’re starting a business or buying assets, that extra education symbolizes dedication and ability that can give you an edge in attracting partners and winning over investors.

Sometimes the university does not prepare new graduates with everything it takes to be capable and successful in entrepreneurial or other professional pursuits. Many industries, such as technology, finance, commercial real estate and other dynamic fields, are evolving so quickly that there is a gap between the expertise needed in the real world and that delivered through university curricula. So you and/or your team may require specialized vocational training offered by industry associations and experts to build and maintain a competitive advantage. And for companies that need licenses, it is often mandatory to do so.

This brings to mind another vital reason to stay current: avoiding liability. If you run a business in an industry that poses a significant risk of malpractice, such as law, architecture or real estate, demonstrating that you have taken best practice measures to keep team capabilities at their peak, protect against claims for professional negligence.

Data abounds in pointing to the value of continuing education, especially as it applies to providing employees with continuous learning. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report94% of employees reported being more loyal to employers who invest in their training, and no fewer than 63% of working adults described themselves as “professional learners” (according to a 2016 Pew Research Center article. That latest research also indicates that 69% of workers living in households earning more than $75,000 a year are also self-described professional apprentices.

Related: Here are some of the best continuing education options for entrepreneurs

Growth and satisfaction

Both business and personal life can become tedious if one gets stuck doing the same task repeatedly, especially without variety or the ability to expand. This usually happens when knowledge and experience in new areas have not been developed for an extended period of time.

When trying to build a reliable team, boredom is one of the main opponents. Intellectually disabled employees are likely to become detached and have a diminishing view of their future, making them much more likely to look for a new job.

Further training challenges entrepreneurs and employees personally and professionally and opens up opportunities for growth and creativity. The chance to try something new, get a better or new result or just offer a different perspective keeps work fresh and increases engagement and satisfaction. The potential opened up by continuous learning allows us to redefine entrepreneurial and professional identities and find what really fits our personalities and talents.

Related: What Benjamin Franklin and Tony Robbins Can Teach You About Self-Improvement

Educational roads

Fortunately, depending on preferences, objectives, budget, industry and available time, there are plenty options for additional training. If you’re considering diversifying into a new industry, the conventional route is going back to college (or hiring managers and technicians with the necessary skills). While this can be costly and time consuming, it is also valuable and rewarding. Even if you have already obtained a certain degree (Bachelor’s, Master’s, etc.), there is no limit to the number of degrees you can obtain at the same level. In other words, just because you already have a bachelor’s degree doesn’t mean the mandatory next step is a master’s, especially if the goal is to switch industries.

As an alternative route, institutions of higher education offer certificate programs which can be completed in three to eighteen months. It allows you to complement a range of skills in your current leadership role and broaden your capabilities.

Related: How to recreate your career and start over

In addition to formal education channels, industry associations offer many professional and vocational options. These include referral/designation programs, industry conferences, academies and workshops. These can be a good choice, even fresh out of college, if you or your employees need to bolster knowledge fueled by hands-on insights from active experts in your industry.

Finally, both leaders and employees can learn by exploring new roles in the current company or in a new venture, where existing skills can be applied while being exposed to new ideas, methodologies and skills. So, if you have staff, consider offering internal training programs as supporting and sponsoring this training brings significant benefits, including being an incubator for new leaders.

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