The Leader as Teacher

Of the many great professional opportunities I’ve had, being a teacher remains one of my favorites. The fun thing is that advising business owners and leading development workshops is a form of teaching. But being an effective manager and leader is a form of teaching, too. 

Many owners, leaders, and managers resist the idea of teaching. Delegation is a hard skill to master for anyone with a tendency toward trying to control things. It’s also an essential skill to master for the business to grow and operate without the leader having to be involved in every daily activity all day every day. 

Just like students, employees learn in different ways. Some need clear, written directions. Others need auditory communication of a vague outcome and the boundaries within which to operate. Still others need to “experience it” by learning in the moment, side by side with the leader. Still others need to be told directly what to do, and others simply need clarity on the Mission, Vision, and Goals. We all have different approaches to learning, and we all have variations within those in different situations. 

The lesson for the leader is that the effective teacher learns and adapts to the student’s style. Some things need to be repeated, some things need to be clarified. Sometimes the teacher needs to lay back and let the student find his or her way and even make small, low-risk mistakes. Other times the teacher needs to step in, hold hands a little, and steer the student back on the correct course. 

You see, the owner or leader can never fully step away and be entirely hands-off. It’s more like a pendulum or a continuum. One side is very involved, the other not at all involved. On different days, in different projects, and with different people, we must operate at different places on the continuum. When we accept that reality and responsibility, our effectiveness as leaders increases dramatically. 

Embrace being a teacher, invest in the exponential returns achieved by showing others how to do things in the most effective way for your organization’s success. Then, step back and let them ride without the training wheels. They will fall a few times, just make sure they don’t get hurt too badly in the process. 


“A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.” -Thomas Carruthers 


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Craig A. Escamilla
Craig A. Escamilla
Craig Escamilla helps you find solutions before problems exist. With fifteen years of consulting, teaching, and senior management experience, Craig brings a wealth of practical expertise to helping others work on rather than in their businesses.

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