Back to Learning and LeadingSeptember heralds “Back to School” for many students and parents. This is also a great time of year for leaders and leadership teams to refocus on learning and development. Exceptional leaders are lifelong learners on a journey of continuous personal development. Extraordinary leaders see learning as a way of life not a phase of life.

Tomorrow we publish my August blog posts in our September issue of The Leader Letter. In this month’s issue you’ll find timely advice based on talent management and leadership development from Kevin Wilde, Vice President of Organization Effectiveness and Chief Learning Officer at General Mills. Whether personal, team, or organization development, we need to make time for work that matters – another article in this issue. It’s way too easy to get sucked back into the busyness vortex as we head into September.

Are you being seduced by the dark side of weakness-based improvement? Like many deeply ingrained habits we often don’t recognize how strongly we equate improvement with addressing gaps and deficiencies. Yet the legacy of Apple founder, Steve Jobs, shows how towering strengths can overshadow weaknesses. We’ll also see how Asset Based Community Development provides another example of, and powerful pathway to, strengths-based leadership development.

Are you focused on your overall customers’ experience with your organization or mainly looking at departmental transaction? Is your leadership team living and leading your brand internally to deliver on your external brand promise? These are a few key issues addressed in new research on “The Truth About Customer Experience” and in strengthening leaders to live the brand at Gap. These could be key questions to ask your leadership team in harnessing the power of an offsite retreat. As many organizations set budgets and plan for 2014, this is a great time of year to refocus and reset your leadership and culture development priorities.

Extraordinary leaders don’t build peak performance teams or organizations by treating learning as an inoculation — a few shots and you’re set for life. As American president, John F. Kennedy observed, “leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”