Philosopher and author Eric Hoffer once said, "In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."

These words shed light on a major truth: We must always be learning. No matter how many years of formal schooling you may have, and no matter how far up you've climbed the ranks, there will always be something new to learn. There will always be new environments and circumstances to adapt to.

CEOs and executives must be especially agile in this age of rapid change and increasing knowledge if they want to lead an exceptional team and top company. But with such demanding work, it's often hard to find the time to keep on top of your learning game.

Stop perusing the millions of articles out there. Here are the ones you need to read:

1. Harvard Business Review: "People Before Strategy: a New Role for the CHRO." New research shows that even though executives recognize they are struggling to foster human capital, they still underestimate the importance of HR. Now more than ever, there is a true benefit to having CEOs and executives work much more closely with HR.

2. Laura Garnett: "If You Are These Five Things, You Are Destined to Be a Leader of the Future." As the working world changes, the coveted leadership qualities of the past are just not cutting it anymore. In this article, I go in depth into the five traits of leaders who are ready to take on the future.

3. David Marquet: "Why Motivating Others Starts With Using the Right Language." This story from retired captain David Marquet is amazing. Just a shift in the everyday language you use as a leader can create remarkable change in the way employees take initiative, deliver results, and own their accomplishments.

4. Richard Branson: "5 Things You Need to Know About the Future of Work." Consider this the CliffsNotes of Virgin United and the B Team's "New Ways of Working" report. Learn what it means to be a "hybrid" leader and what great workers are looking for in companies.

5. Andy Molinsky: "Being Experienced Doesn't Automatically Make You a Great Mentor." As a CEO or executive, you pride yourself on the hard work it took to get you where you are today. Your experience is a great asset, but be careful about how your hindsight affects the way you lead and mentor others.

6. Tony Schwartz: "The Power of Starting With 'Yes.'" Saying "no" is a survival instinct. To be cautious is to be human, but be aware of how negative body language affects collaboration and innovation. Saying "yes" doesn't mean going with every new idea; it means being open and supportive in the process of greatness.

7. Margaret Perlis: "5 Characteristics of Grit." When we think about the key to success, we hear a lot about perseverance, drive, confidence, and integrity. We don't often hear the word "grit." While there is not one way that works for anyone, tapping into your own grit and core desire to improve is absolutely necessary for future success.

8. Nancy Rothbard: "Put on a Happy Face. Seriously." How your employees feel in the morning affects their performance and satisfaction for the rest of the day. It is absolutely crucial for leaders to be able to take the mood temperature of the room and reset negative energy.

9. Tony Schwartz: "The Rhythm of Great Performance." Think outside the box in terms of how you structure your day and that of your employees. Cycles of focus and rest -- even if it means more time off --can catapult your company to new heights.

10. Josh Zumbrun: "Like Your Job? The Stock Market Will Probably Like Your Company." If you think it's all about customer satisfaction, think again. Focusing on your employees and making your company a great place to work has immense spillover effects on company value, customer satisfaction, publicity, and retaining great talent.

Published on: Aug 14, 2015