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Commentary: Leaders should Teach – Not Preach

Being a leader-teacher starts with your mindset and commitment to building company culture.


John Passante is a broad-based senior executive with over 30 years of extensive organizational development and senior human resource experience with progressive corporations involved in multiple locations, both domestic and international.

As we consider the many roles and responsibilities of leaders and leadership, I wonder how often we view them as teachers, and not preachers. Each of us has the ability to learn. Being a leader-teacher starts with your mindset and commitment to building company culture, as well as making learning a major part of the fabric of the company. To guide people like a teacher and not gab at employees (like a preacher).

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Effective teachers ask questions, seek the opinion of others, listen and learn. Effective leader-teachers:

·        Do not pontificate

·        Provide positive feedback and feed forward any encourage questions and challenges

·        Stress that there are no bad questions

·        Look for the best in people

·        Control their egos

·        Demonstrate a passion for teaching and learning

·        Dig in and get their hands dirty

·        Are role models for learning

·        They do not tell they encourage

·        Show that they are invested and passionate about learning

·        Communicate the task at hand, paints the picture

·        Engage in dialogue and encourages conversations

·        Realize there is not always one answer to an issue or problem

·        Seek positive conflict and shared learning

·        Shine a bright light on the talents of employees

·        They are a catalyst for positive change

·        Strive to be a lifelong leader

“Anytime you influence thinking, beliefs or development of another person you are engaging in leadership.” – Ken Blanchard

Leader-teachers share examples of being professional and having high standards of integrity and ethics, as well as share examples of being credible. They care and it shows. Great leaders freely share their lifelong lessons and prefer a deeper wisdom in life. Even the challenges and disappointments.


Think about your favorite teacher or college professor and recall how they made the adventure of learning exciting. A true leader has the ability to make learning come alive and lets us know that it is ok to not have all the answers. That true learning is found in the questions we ask. Remarkable teachers never put us down in class or embarrass us.

In fact, they guide us nourish and nurture the positive flame of learning, A leader-teacher connects with us on how we learn it is not a one-size-fits-all scenario and they know that. Organizations today invest heavily in technology, which they should. Permit me to suggest that more emphasis should be put in demonstrating to leaders how to be a leader-teacher and developing their people skills. The lack of good people skills results in loss of creativity, productivity and causes poor morale, which in turn creates a quick employee turnover.


Teachers are indeed unsung heroes who help mold us into who we are on a daily basis. Our homework assignment is to share and pass on the lessons we learned.

Remember, the teacher is always watching!