Today’s insights are brought to you by my colleague and leadership thinker, Keith Coats.


In today’s fast-paced and constantly evolving business world, the ability to be agile in thought, approach, and action is of paramount importance. One might think that reaching the pinnacle of leadership – as senior executives, CEOs, and business owners – implies the culmination of learning. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, at the helm of leadership, the triad of learning, unlearning, and relearning becomes even more vital.


Why? Here’s the breakdown.

  1. The Necessity of Continuous Learning: Every day, new technologies emerge, industries get disrupted, and global dynamics shift. The knowledge and strategies that were effective yesterday may not hold water today. For leaders, continuous learning is the only way to keep their organisations at the cutting edge, be it in the domain of technological advancements, business strategies, or human resource management.
  2. The Power of Unlearning: As the saying goes, “Old habits die hard.” Many leaders have decades of experience that has formed the foundation of their decision-making. However, not all of these experiences or beliefs are applicable today. In some instances, they might even be detrimental. Unlearning is about discarding outdated paradigms and processes that no longer serve our purpose or that of our organisation. It’s about recognising the difference between timeless principles and time-bound practices, and about becoming humble enough to admit that you still have more to learn.
  3. Relearning – A Key to Adaptability: While unlearning is about letting go, relearning is about rebuilding. It’s about adopting new and improved ways, be it related to a technology that has advanced, an industry norm that has evolved or a socio-cultural shift in workplace dynamics. This process ensures that leaders and their organisations remain adaptable and relevant, especially in times of uncertainty and change.

For senior executives, leaders, and CEOs, this adaptive intelligence derived from the cycle of learning, unlearning, and relearning is not just a self-improvement tool. It’s a vital strategy to ensure their businesses remain competitive, innovative, and resilient.

But it goes beyond just business.

Leadership is not just about leading businesses; it’s about leading people. In a world where the workforce is increasingly looking up to authentic and adaptable leaders, it becomes imperative for those leaders to walk the talk. When we embrace the cycle of learning, we not only inspire innovation in processes but also cultivate a culture of continual growth, curiosity, and adaptability within our teams.

So, ask yourself: What parts of your processes or leadership are deeply ingrained? Are there systems or beliefs that you’ve held onto for too long, that might be holding you or your organisation back?

And more importantly, how can you integrate the philosophy of learning, unlearning, and relearning to ensure not just growth, but transformative and sustainable success?


If you’d like further resources and insights for your Adaptive Leadership journey, read more on our website or email Keith directly at [email protected]


Keith Coats is a founding partner of TomorrowToday Global and leadership specialist. He is now based in Cape Town, South Africa having relocated from London towards the end of 2021. Keith works with blue chips companies and in multiple business school leadership programmes worldwide helping senior leaders prepare today for the challenges and threats of tomorrow…and sometimes, the ‘day after tomorrow’.

Recently Keith’s travel has included working throughout the UK, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Germany, Switzerland, Singapore, and of course, South Africa.

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