Lifelong learning is a key ingredient to being a great leader and thinker. Additionally, being able to lead through teaching adds an extra dimension to a role. It is important to remember that not everyone is a born teacher and while a love for learning is a great start, it does not necessarily make a leader or a teacher.
Helping others learn to do things better or differently can change the dynamic of an organization. Leaders who take their responsibility to teach and guide others seriously can help prepare the next generation of leaders. They are often a source of inspiration for these young and eager minds. Yet, good leaders know that teaching moments happen every day not just in a formal setting. There are things that can happen in the workplace that can be used to teach others in a variety of ways including new skills, life lessons or even the best way to do things.
Being a CIO today has many challenges. Things are changing rapidly, and the best way forward is to be able to lead a workforce that is ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow. CIOs who can master the art of leading through teaching will help develop the leaders needed to make it through these complex times.
What Does It Mean to Lead Through Teaching?
Business leaders will often be placed in situations where they can enhance the lives and work of those around them through their leadership or they can focus on themselves and their achievements. CIOs who choose to lead through teaching will not only have a lasting impact on their legacy but on the lives of those around them.
Teaching is a skill. That means that anyone can learn to be a better teacher. The more you practice your teaching approach, the more polished you can make it. There are some factors that are already in place that will help you lead through teaching. These include:
- Positivity – As a leader, you want to bring out the best in your staff and those around you. No matter what you are facing, your optimism will help bring others on board.
- Trust – Good leaders, like good teachers, inspire trust in those around them. While you do have authority over your employees, leading them through teaching means that you don’t use your position to manipulate them. In short, don’t lord it over them.
- Role model – To succeed in leading through teaching, you need to practice what you preach. Employees will see right through you if you only tell them how to do things rather than show them. CIOs who already exhibit good modeling behavior have what it takes to teach others.
Why Teaching is Important?
Leading others in the workplace is not just a task to get done. It takes a unique approach and individual to be able to do it right. But when you do, you can transform your organization in many ways, including:
- Best practices – Taking advantage of opportunities to lead through teaching during everyday tasks, CIOs can help develop positive and productive employee habits. If your employees are learning the best practices for your industry, they can become some of the highest performing in your space.
- Employee engagement – Leaders who take the time to guide their employees demonstrate that the individuals at the organization have value. By believing that their leaders care about them employees become more engaged and loyal to the organization. This, in turn, can help reduce high turnover rates that often result in a significant cost for the company.
- Innovation – The learning atmosphere that is created when CIOs lead through teaching lends itself to more innovation at the organization. Employees who are taught to continuously ask questions, and to keep learning will be on the lookout for new and better ways to get things done. Moreover, leaders who value learning will be more open to different perspectives and creativity at their companies.
How to Effectively Lead Through Teaching
Successful teacher-leaders have some characteristics in common that can be imitated to help you create your style. Research from the Harvard Business Review notes that by following the example of great leader-teachers, anyone can learn to do it. They divide teaching opportunities into three categories:
- Professionalism – These are those ethical and value-driven lessons. It can help the individual understand how to be more professional and act with integrity.
- Points of craft – Industry-specific instruction is the second area where CIOs can lead through teaching. Guiding employees to understand the basics of what your organization does and how best to get it done.
- Life lessons – CIOs should also be able to lead through teaching life lessons. From setting and achieving goals to staying calm in a crisis, there are many ways that leaders can offer wider bits of wisdom to employees.
It is also important to know when a teaching opportunity arises. This can be on-the-job or in specifically-arranged situations out of the office. Those who lead through teaching treat every moment and scenario as an opportunity for passing along wisdom.
The approach that CIOs should take can vary from instance to instance depending on the circumstances and personality of those they are looking to teach. Some situations will call for a direct approach while others may need a more sensitive style. One of the best ways to lead through teaching is to continuously ask questions but to do so in a way that is not condescending. Great leaders usually approach each situation as a learning opportunity not just for their employees but also for them.
One of the key ingredients to leading through teaching is to have the right organizational atmosphere. Your company should be one that is open, honest and innovative. Remember that even leading through teaching can be a learning experience for CIOs. By teaching others, you can refine your teaching skills.