“Anything that is worth teaching can be presented in many different ways. These multiple ways can make use of our multiple intelligences.” —Howard Gardner
Great leadership takes investing in your employees. They want a mentor, someone to help them become the best they can be. They want to learn and grow. And, as a leader, you are in the perfect position to serve as a teacher. One small catch, teaching is about more than just telling. So, how can you become a great teacher?
Set the example
Teaching all starts out with the example you set. We all know the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “What you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” This is true in both your personal and your professional life. Employees are watching you to determine if you are authentic. Can they trust you? And, are you really someone they can look up to and learn from? Make sure your words match your actions; set the example of successful behaviors for employees to follow.
Most people learn better when they get hands-on experience. Make sure employees get the chance to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. Once they get some real hands-on experience, talk to them about what they’ve learned, what input they have, and what they would like more experience doing. Once employees get real experience, you may learn more from them than they learn from you.
Embed learning from failure into the very fabric of your organization. Encourage employees to explore, experiment, get creative, fail, and then build on that failure to create something even better. Failure can be reprimanded, or used as a stepping stone to success. As a leader, you get to determine if employees get the opportunity to embrace and learn from failure.
Employees want opportunities. Not one time opportunities, but continual opportunities. They want to try new things, learn how other departments work, and get an understanding of operations from a ‘big picture’ view. The more opportunities you open up for employees, the more they learn, the greater their value to you as a leader and to the organization as a whole.
Go Beyond Telling
Everyone learns differently. You can lecture and explain all you want; the fact is teaching is about more than just telling. Set the example for employees to follow. Give employees hands on experience and then ask them for feedback on their experience. Encourage them to embrace and learn from failure rather than fear it. And, offer them continual opportunity to stretch, learn, and grow.
© 2016 Elizabeth Stincelli
Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.
Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at email@example.com.