Leaders need to be teachers

The other day I said that leaders need to make sure their staff never stop learning. But the reality is that it goes further than that.

Leaders need to be teachers.

I know you know this already but it is worth repeating. You’ll never know something as well as when you have to teach it to someone else.

When I’m asked to explain something or articulate how I want someone to do something, I have to go thru the process of really thinking about what it is that I think about, and what steps I take. All of that happens before I even explain the first step in any process.

But I’m not writing this to tell you to focus more on teaching. Nope. I’m trying to suggest something different. If leaders need to be teachers, then those of us developing leaders need to learn to develop teachers.

And you know what that means?

We have to get comfortable with someone else doing a teaching job worse than we might do it. Because the leaders we invite to teach (for maybe the first time) are going to need help.

Years ago I worked with a guy who was an incredible developer. But he wanted to learn to speak at conferences. So we worked on some tips and tricks. But none of that was as important as giving him two of my speaking slots at a weeklong conference.

He got better by doing some actual teaching. I helped him prepare. I helped him practice. I even sat in the back of the room. But I created the space and place for him to develop his teaching skills.

Why? Because leaders are teachers. And as leaders develop, they need to opportunities to develop their teaching skills.