Why Team Leaders Should Be Great Teachers

New York Times Bestselling author Sheryl Sandberg defines leadership in the most creative and truthful way. “Leadership”, says Sandberg, “is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”

According to Sandberg, a great leader becomes such an inspiration for others that the teachings they spread will continue to have a lasting impact, even after they’re gone. Guiding employees in a way that transcends job duties and rigid responsibilities stands at the core of great leadership.

Why team leaders should be great teachers

In this article, we’ll explore the rapport between teaching and leadership, highlighting how to spot leadership potential among employees. We’ll also do an overview of the most important lessons that great leaders should pass on to their people.

Selecting the best person for the job

First and foremost, if you want to become a great leader, you need a chance to lead. Spotting the talent requires intuition, but also creativity and thinking outside the box. Those who might seem to be the best people for the job aren’t always what they seem to be. At the same time, people who have never shown leading potential could actually possess a real talent for it.

Leading positions are way too often granted to the best performing employees. However, this might not always be a winning strategy. Since being a top performing employee does not always come with leadership skills. Team leaders need to have more than great ideas and a high-job performance.

One of the most common mistakes is to believe that the person who talks the most or the loudest is “leader material”. Even though being a good communicator is crucial, the person who just talks more than others is not necessarily a leader.

Being an extrovert and taking up more space than others might be mistaken for leadership skills. However, in most cases, such people just talk more than others. This is not a desirable leadership skill. A good team leader knows how to listen and makes space for everyone to share their ideas.

Management usually promotes to leadership positions people they see fit from their own perspective. However, as already discussed, the best employees don’t always make good leaders. Instead of following the regular path, you could try sending out questionnaires to your employees and ask them who they think would make a good leader other than themselves and why.

You might find out interesting things that you couldn’t have known otherwise, and get under your radar people you haven’t considered before. The best thing about these people is that they already have the respect and appreciation of their peers, who are probably looking up to them for guidance. This means that they might possess the most valuable skills you can find in a great leader, including being a good teacher.

Read on to find out why it’s so important for great leaders to be good teachers.

Most valuable lessons a leader can pass on to teams

Team leaders who are also great teachers make the best leaders. Sharing wisdom, offering advice and taking the time to tutor their team is what makes them stand out.

While most managers have formal feedback, advising and guiding in their flows, teacher-leaders do much more than that:

  • They build bonds that help their people grow and become great leaders themselves.
  • They spend one-on-one time and work side by side with their team, sharing principles, strategies and technical skills.
  • Instead of limiting teaching to formal meetings and training, they let team members learn organically, on the go.

Now, let’s discuss some of the most valuable lessons that a great leader can and should pass on team members.

#1 How to be good a professional

A great team leader is also a good professional, teaching team members to be the same. Leaders are an inspiration in everything they do. From the way they carry themselves to giving presentations, leading meetings and communicating ideas.

Many successful professionals relate that their former leaders and mentors taught them how to share their vision, how to emphasize integrity and have strong work ethics.

#2 Sharing technical skills

As a team leader, it’s your duty to ensure that people are giving their best. But a teacher-leader won’t just manage from a distance and let their team do all the work. They will work side by side with them and share their knowledge to help everyone improve.

Insecure leaders usually refrain from that. It’s either out of fear that someone might become better than them, or they simply can’t find the generosity to share their knowledge with others. Make sure you don’t fall into any of these traps. It will only keep the team in a standstill.

#3 Life lessons from team leaders

Great leaders are mentors both on work-related issues and life matters. They inspire teams to achieve their professional and personal goals and become the best version of themselves.

When LinkedIn Executive Mike Gamson first met with CEO Jeff Weiner, he learned a very important lesson. Weiner asked Gamson what kind of leader he wanted to be, and the latter said that he aspired to be “an empathetic leader.” In return, Weiner replied with a Buddhist parable, stating the difference between empathy and compassion. Furthermore, he explained that an empathetic person relates to the struggles of others without being able to take action to help them improve their situation. However, a compassionate leader understands the struggle with a layer of detachment that allows them to confront the situation. Even though the meeting between the two leaders happened 10 years ago, Gamson still stays true to the “compassionate leadership” philosophy.

Last but not least, the timing factor is also important. Great team leaders do not wait for meetings or planned events to share their wisdom – they do it on the spot, whenever the opportunity arises, yet never in a way that would put their employees in a bad light.

As a leader, when you need to correct a mistake or discuss someone’s failure, it works better if you do it in private. If it’s outside the office, it’s even better. Taking employees out for a one-on-one lunch can bring more value than having a session of negative feedback in the office.

What are the most valuable lessons you learned from your past or present leaders? Feel free to comment in the section below and let everyone know how they changed your life.

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