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Leaders Are Teachers

Today I share with you a blog post from Kevin Eikenberry titled Seven Lessons Leaders Can Learn from Great Teachers.

I’ve always believed that the best leaders are great teachers. Leaders who explain, demonstrate, gently correct and inspire performance in those entrusted to their care.

The teaching leader is no ordinary leader – their love of the student makes them remembered and remarkable. As our kids head back to the classroom this Fall, let’s take ourselves back to the classroom to think about how we can become better teachers of leaders. Our students will be grateful if we do.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
~ William Arthur Ward

Seven Lessons Leaders Can Learn from Great Teachers

While the time of my children’s first days in kindergarten are well in the past for me, a KEG teammate who is (tearfully) sending her daughter to school today got me to thinking about leaders and teachers.

When people are asked to list the most influential people in their lives, several groups tend to rise near the top. After family and close friends, the next most likely categories are teachers and leaders/bosses. I’ve long said that there is a connection between the skills of a great leader and the skills of an exceptional teacher.

So,what are the lessons leaders can learn from great teachers?

The Seven Lessons

Great Teachers Believe In Their Students – We intuitively know that we perform better for people when we know they believe in us. When that belief comes from someone in a position of influence that performance pull is even stronger. There is a second component to this that is at least as powerful: when we believe, we help others build their belief in themselves.

Great Teachers Care About Student Success – The best teachers are invested in their students’ success. They put in the extra effort, and they are patient. They do what it takes to help the student succeed. While they realize their role and willingly play it, they also know that ultimately the student’s performance is the student’s responsibility. The famous and powerful quotation applies here: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care about them.”

Great Teachers Love The Subject You can tell when a teacher loves the subject – their passion and excitement comes through and is contagious. As a leader, do you love the work and mission of your organization? Are you passionate about how your organization and your team serves the world around you? Let your passion show – it will make a difference for those you lead.

Great Teachers Make Learning Fun – Think about the best teachers you’ve experienced. Chances are, learning with them was fun! Great teachers know that we can work hard, learn a lot and have fun doing it. Great leaders lead teams to enjoy their work – they take the work seriously, but still create an environment where people want to be and can enjoy both the process and results of their work.

Great Teachers Are Excellent Communicators – To instruct, inform and inspire requires the ability to communicate successfully. Great teachers and great leaders can make their point, but can also ask the right questions at the right time, can and do listen intently. Excellent communication is more than excellent speaking skills; effective leaders know that and practice and consistently improve all of their communication skills.

Great Teachers Make The Learning Practical – The best teachers speak at a level and explain things in a way that make sense to their students. They connect lessons to real life and build application. Leaders do the same thing – they teach and share ideas and skills in an accessible and useful way.

GreatTeachers See The Big Picture – Great teachers know that the learning in the moment may be hard, tedious and perhaps even boring. They help students get past these moments by acknowledging how they feel, but by helping them see the big picture. They know that the challenging times are needed to get to the ultimate learning goal – they have a perspective students can’t have and share that perspective to help people move through the challenges. Great leaders have a similar perspective and help those they lead through the mundane by raising their eyes towards the future.

Become the leader you were born to be.

Orginally published on May 2, 2011 by Kevin Eikenberry.

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