Great Leaders Are Great Teachers
Boatloads of people want to be great leaders. Fewer people realize that to be a great leader in today’s world, you must be a great teacher. There was a time when leaders tended to hoard knowledge because knowledge meant power and control. But the days of command and control are over. Today, leaders are teachers! The ones who actively share information with the team create better relationships and improve productivity and employee satisfaction.Leaders need to be able to share the methodologies and processes that make their business run with the people they work with and hire. If your managers, your direct reports, are poorly trained, your entire team staff will be poorly trained, and it will reflect in your operations. An additional benefit is that the best way to learn something yourself is to teach it.Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, helped popularize the idea of the leader-as-teacher. He said, "As a leader, you have to have a teachable point of view." Who was an excellent teacher you had in the past? Who encouraged, motivated, and helped you discover opportunities that incorporated your talents? That’s what you want to do for others, right?Of course there will always be leaders who are more concerned about their own status than influencing others to greatness. A desire to achieve is good, and is momentarily good for a company's profits. However, over the long haul this doesn’t lead to sustainable success because there is a major difference between managing to the point of success and teaching people to find success themselves.When a leader takes the time and skill to teach and mentor employees, the leader-teacher shows a person that they can become more than they'd ever imagined. They see their worth and value. A leader may not be formally trained, but this doesn’t mean the leader is not able to capably teach and share knowledge. Great leaders all have some teaching skills; they just need to be able to tap into them and use them.A leader-teacher consistently brings out the best in others. Even when faced with crisis and intimidating obstacles, an exemplary leader will influence, motivate, and teach. Whatever the challenges, a leader-teacher optimistically and persistently sets an example. They motivate the team members to work to see and work to their potential. They bring out the best in the team.A leader-teacher inspires trust. No one learns without trust. When the team knows the leader has their backs, the learning process is energized. In this atmosphere, both the leader and the team members learn and grow in the learning process. A good leader-teacher will give their team members hands-on training or help finding a solution to a problem instead of just expecting them to come up with it.A good leader-teacher is a good role model. A leader can preach all he likes, but preaching and exhorting will never foster commitment. Modeling is far more effective than giving a speech about it. It’s the old “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day” principle. When a team sees its leader modeling the right way to handle things, it will follow. Therefore, modeling is far more effective than giving a speech about it. We teach and lead when we demonstrate that we are committed to our beliefs.A leader is not just a teacher. A leader has to wear many hats. Not only is a leader a teacher, she’s a manager. It’s very important to know when to be what. Think about two different scenarios. First, an employee isn’t hitting the goals or reaching his potential because the project hasn't been fully communicated to him. A leader has two options: He can pick up the teacher role and put in some serious teaching time. Or he can put a manager’s hat on and hand him a manual. The best leader will become a teacher.If on the other hand, the same employee has been significantly on the receiving end of the leader’s personal input and teaching time but still has a low production level even after all the leader's personal input, time, and teaching, it's time to up the manager role. Now it is time to quit simply teaching and leading, and manage by putting in place an accountability process.Balance is essential. But a GREAT leader will manage, teach, and lead, and become a great leader with a great team.