Leadership

The Essence of Leadership: Five Things to Learn by Teaching Others

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Working and existing for many years as a consumer, marketing professional, teacher and writer, I’ve come to the obvious conclusion that I don’t know it all. Maybe somebody does, but not me. Still there are things out there that are good to know that we can use and our customers and team can use. The problem in staying ahead of the curve is that on a day-to-day basis people mostly use just enough of what they have to know, to get the job done. In other words, too much information can get in the way.

That’s where thinking like a teacher can help you learn. By mentoring, sharing with the staff, presenting research on trends and observations on human behavior we all have the opportunity to function like a teacher. Teaching (mentoring, coaching etc.) can be a real form of leadership because the essence of leadership lies in the continuum of growth, which is at the core of a teacher’s calling.

No matter what your position may be in your organization if you start thinking of yourself as a teacher and grade yourself on how well people learn and grow around you, I think you’ll find the following five things to be true:

1. You’ll be better prepared – Getting ready for the day will be like getting ready for class and all eyes will be on you. And this doesn’t have to be packed with stress either. The fact that you know there are minds out there that can learn from you will enable you to more easily and readily share. Leaders are always ready.

2. You’ll be more open - Teaching is not a one-way communication. It requires feedback and an open mind that allows for discovery and exploration. The best conversations are interactive with information flowing both ways. When you’re open to something, something new will find you. Leaders are flexible.

3. You’ll be more empathetic – Information needs to be relevant and useable to be embraced. Knowing your audience and thinking like they do will help you make stronger and lasting connections. It all about taking knowledge and then creating the situations where it can be applied - that takes an understanding of the audience and their needs. Leaders can relate.

4. You’ll be more believable – Teachers don’t teach without proof and facts to support themselves. When you can meld facts with experience, the context creates credibility. So we all learn something new and sometimes we don’t have room to keep it, but if we consider that whatever we learn is something we can share, we’ll redirect and share information, which helps build trust. Leaders are trustworthy.

5. You’ll be more motivated – A teacher’s successes generate the fuel to move forward and the energy it takes to be an effective leader. A leader which like a teacher, must inspire, educate and nurture - and never leave his or her pupils in the same space where they started. Good leaders succeed.

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