Strong companies prioritize continuing education. As a leader in your company, you hold yourself responsible for attending training whenever possible. It keeps you up to date with your employees, and sets a good example. But leaders are busy, too. You probably miss more training than you’d like. What if you can learn leadership skills passively, through your daily activities? There is a way, and we have a few ideas to help you out, and we’ve added a mission at the end of each. Challenge yourself to try all three of them.


Though you may see articles decrying the death of reading as a pastime, rest assured it’s as popular as ever. We’re talking about reading for pleasure, which means material that doesn’t remind you of work. Books unrelated to your career still pack advice and leadership lessons, though. Reading a variety of books not only exposes you to perspectives you might not otherwise consider, but well-read leaders also tend to be better communicators.

Does this mean a trip to the library every week? Not always. If the feel and smell of old fashioned books isn’t your thing, invest in an e-reader. They’re common, inexpensive, and open up avenues standard libraries don’t have. With the popularity of Amazon and other online book stores, self-publishing is taking off. There are indie authors with great stories to tell, and self-publishing gets their content directly into your hands.

Mission: Find a new fiction book covering a time period or world you aren’t familiar with. Learn how the characters use teamwork to survive in their environment.


People watching is underrated. The simple act of sitting on a park bench and paying attention to the world. Watch how people greet each other and converse. See parents, children, friends, and strangers interact and show all sides of human behavior. Actions and reactions, facial expressions, body language. This method of gaining perspective isn’t limited to the US. People watching in other countries shows you the differences in social structures, food culture, and business etiquette.

The diversity in today’s economy makes it necessary to acknowledge cultural differences, and to help new workers acclimate to new surroundings. As a leader, you probably go through diversity training. But as a human, you’re more effective if you extend that training outside the office walls and into the streets.

Mission: Pick a new cafe. Watch out the windows and pick out human interactions that you haven’t noticed before. Pay special attention to cultures different from your own.


Taking non-credit classes at a local training center or community college is a great way to get learn new skills and even discover a new hobby. Maybe look for a class on cooking, or using Adobe PhotoShop, a new type of code, or basic maintenance on your car. Like reading, enrichment classes fill your brain with new ideas and perspectives.

Reading and watching are generally unstructured. You do them when you please, and the time may vary. Perhaps reading for an hour on a weekday is a stretch, and you find reading for an afternoon on Sundays much easier. People watching is the same way. Where enrichment classes differ is their structure. Taking a class gives you a schedule and homework. It encourages you to organize, prioritize, and recognize your free time and what you’re getting out of it. Of course, wasting away a Saturday isn’t’ always a bad thing. But mindlessly burning up weekends when you could be doing something more interesting? Nah.

Mission: Take a new class. It can be a local college, a free online class, or a simple community workshop. Learn a new language or skill.

Input and Output – What is your equation for success

Nourish yourself with books, with your eyes, and through education. It’s the classic input/output equation. The more ideas you take in, the more creative you are with your leadership. The more you’ll understand different cultures and relate to your diverse global workforce. The more you’ll recognize patterns in behavior and know how to address them. The more you’ll grow as a leader and become a better mentor to future leaders.

Mission: Increase your input by at least 100% over the next year. Share your stories of success!




Todd Ringleman

Todd Ringleman

Founder, CEO at RAY • ALLEN INC
Todd Ringleman is Founder and CEO of RAY • ALLEN INC. Under Todd’s leadership, RAY • ALLEN INC has grown from a disruptive idea into a leading partner in the IT Asset Management and Recurring Revenue market.
Todd Ringleman

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