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Guest Commentary: Catalyst For Change – The Role Of The Leader Is To Teach

“The simple truth is, continuous improvement requires a commitment to learning. The leader/teacher seeks to expand the capacity of employees, instill desire and new thinking. Learning is a team effort,” writes Dr. John Passante.

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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.

Photo credit: iStock.com/TommL

We have all, from time to time, been encouraged to be lifelong learners, which enriches our lives. However, I would submit that a key role of leadership is to teach. Each day is an opportunity to transform a company into a hothouse of leadership talent, and foster employee growth. Effective leaders view themselves as tutors. Personalized, one-on-one teaching and coaching brings out the best in employees. It plants the seed of not only competence but the mastery of skills, independent though and positive action.

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The leader-teacher steps outside their normal role and makes teaching others the core of their position. They support the importance of annual reviews, management development and career paths. Their days involve getting in the trenches with employees sharing business tactics, principles and experiences – business and personal and life lessons. This can have a powerful influence on employees when the teaching is informal and supportive. Learning is a two-way street! When leaders teach, they also learn from their employees, who are themselves effective leaders and teachers.

To quote John F. Kennedy: “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

As adults, we need to see a reason to learn and it has to be applicable to our work and responsibilities. The leader/teacher develops a culture that values ideas, creativity and innovation. This provides a forum for employees to:

• Challenge

• Innovate

• Explore

• Be adventurous

• Be hopeful

• Be a breeding ground for fresh views

Scottish writer John Buchan said: “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit the greatness that is there already.” 

Teaching leaders communicate the fact that leadership is intensely contextual and always depends upon a particular circumstance and stress a sense of purpose, meaning and personal identity. The simple truth is, continuous improvement requires a commitment to learning. The leader/teacher seeks to expand the capacity of employees, instill desire and new thinking. Learning is a team effort. 

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“As a leader, you have to have a teachable point of view.” – Jack Welch 

By teaching, the leader, can show a person that they can become something much more than they have ever imagined. Take a moment to reflect on a leader who brought out the best in you. What a gift! A leader as a teacher inspires trust. The leader should be a teacher first. The traits of impactive leaders/teachers are:

• Commitment to the employees and the organization 

• Dedicated to providing each employee the best possible culture and environment to learn

• A passion for teaching and learning 

• They are involved in activities that improve learning in the organization 

• Collaboration and solicit support for learning 

• Communication and rapport

• They are skilled listeners and respect and the opinions and ideas of others

• They embrace change 

• Their focus is on others and how their efforts will produce successes for all employees and succeed by breeding success. 

• They always share their teachable point of view.

According to American management consultant, author and educator Noel Tichy, “Acquiring a teachable point of view involves in-depth preparation by leaders. Once they had a teachable point of view, they thought of creative ways to find teaching and learning opportunities. They tried to turn every interaction with their people into a learning and teachable event and often set aside time to teach leadership outside of scheduled activities.”

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Now is the time to clarify your teachable point of view and start to create stories around them. The leader/teacher creates a virtuous teaching cycle where both the leader and the student (employee) learn from each other.

LET THE TEACHING AND LEARNING START TODAY!

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