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Teacher-leaders know how to listen to employees — not preach to them

Businesses today invest heavily on technology for learning, which they should. But permit me to suggest that more emphasis should be put in developing their leaders

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 teacher-leader starts with your mindset, and commitment to building a learning culture and it becoming part of your company’s fabric.

Dr. John Passante

Below are a few simple, yet important, attributes of being a teacher-leader:

• Effective teachers ask questions, seek the opinion of others, listen and learn

• They 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 ego

• 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

The leader-teachers share examples on 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.

A true leader has the ability to make learning come alive and let us know that it is OK to not have all the answers. And that true learning is found in the questions we ask. Remarkable teachers never put us down to embarrass us.

In fact, they guide us to 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. Businesses today invest heavily on technology, which they should. But permit me to suggest that more emphasis should be put in developing their leaders on how to be a leader — teacher and people skills. The lack of good people skills results in loss of creativity, productivity and cause poor morale, which in turn creates a quick employee turnover.

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


Dr. John Passante is president and CEO of The Organizational Development Group, Inc. He has more than 35 years experience in human resources, sales and marketing, and organizational development.

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