Continuing education isn’t a new concept. While business leaders, CEOs, and entrepreneurs have gone back to the classroom for years, our ancestors had a slightly different – although equally rewarding – viewpoint about lifelong learning.

According to a famous ancient Chinese proverb, “Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” Thomas Jefferson, known for his never-ending love of learning, once said, “I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led.” And everyone from Socrates to Henry Ford promoted the idea of self-education, even into their twilight years.

Intellectual curiosity isn’t limited to world-famous political figures, motivational speakers or self-help gurus. In the business world, this desirable character attribute helps enhance career prospects, increase net paycheck profits and also leads to greater innovation in the workplace – and not just from the bottom-up, but from the top-down.

This blog will look at how business leaders can advance their own personal careers, while helping out their company, co-workers, and colleagues in the process. We’ll also suggest a few classes that might help your own personal journey.

Lifelong Learning: A Key Element of Successful Business Leadership

Business owners and CEO might not be obvious candidates for continuing education – after all, they’re more or less at the pinnacle of their respective professions – but in order to stay innovative, meet business challenges and successfully lead, going back to school (or at least taking a few classes) certainly has its merits.

The idea of a company sending employees back to school has always been a widely-accepted idea; with greater educational achievement comes more demanding (and hence rewarding), high-paying work, which benefits both the worker and overall company. Today, firms use both established educational institutions and internal, firm-focused learning to help spur company objectives, and also meet the complex, unique demands of employees from all walks of life.

Obviously, taking extra classes is beneficial for those in the breakroom. But what about executives in the boardroom? Interestingly, business leaders face similar concerns as “regular worker bees,” but also end up with greater self-confidence, enhanced competency and more appreciation for day-to-day business activities after hitting the books for a second (or even third time).

Whether you’re a new CEO or a veteran business leader, there are a few questions to ask yourself before taking extra classes or completing your bachelor’s, master’s or MBA, including:

  • Would an online course make more sense? Some CEOs are already extremely busy, so avoiding time in the classroom is a tangible advantage.
  • Do I need another degree, or just a few courses? Decide whether a class or full workload is necessary. Make your continuing education fit your lifestyle, not the other way around.
  • How are my time management skills? You’d think most executives have time management mastered, but even so, extra time in the classroom or studying can disrupt a normal schedule. Will your classes leave enough time to handle your professional, family and personal commitments?

Once you’ve decided to make the leap, pick a class, degree or program that best fits your career goals. For some business leaders, a six-week online class can lead to extra profits. But for others, a full-time commitment to another degree may be required. CEO development programs, online courses and telecommuting options are great alternatives to the traditional classroom environment.


For Your Consideration: Four College Classes for Business Owners

Get creative. Abstract thinking skills help separate the great CEOs from the good ones. With this in mind, it helps to tap into your creative juices. Take a creative writing class at your local community college. Try a pottery class. In short, get out of your comfort zone, even if it’s only one night per week. And despite inherent bias, the humanities actually help career prospects.

Considering a career switch to law? Many high achievers are lured into the field of law, and there are many top-flight schools and programs to choose from. The California Western School of Law offers an excellent J.D. / MBA program. Plus, CWSL also has a summer enrichment program to help prospective law students get a feel for what law school is all about.

Think in a different dimension. 3D animation is making impressive inroads in everyday business life. From studio personnel to marketing careers, the ability to effectively portray high-tech imagery is fast becoming an indispensable skill. Platt College’s 3D Animation program is perfect for business leaders in technical fields (3D printing, drafting & design, engineering, etc.) that would like to gain a greater appreciation for the ever-expanding field of animation.

Learn another language. The term “global economy” gets thrown about so often, it’s easy to lose sight of what it actually means. For CEOs of multinational firms, it never hurts to hit the books in search of expanded communication skills. For example, if your company has facilities in Japan, why not take some entry-level Japanese courses?

These are just some classes any CEO can pursue. Find out what’s lacking in your personal and professional lives, weigh the time management options, and do some research on which classes, courses, and programs fit your unique lifestyle. Once you’re committed, hit the books with the same passion and pursuit of knowledge that would make any 22-year old envious.

In the end, we’re all better off knowing more today than we did yesterday. Thanks for reading the Innovative Company blog!

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