more colourful chalk by cybertoadI really hated some of my teachers. I remember falling  asleep on my desk during some maths lessons – the boredom was tortuous! I’ll admit, teachers do have it hard sometimes; keeping the attention of hormonal teenagers is not easy.

But then again, we all had some teachers we loved. Those who inspired us, believed in us, invested in us. Who made us into better people.

As a cutting edge leader, have you ever thought of yourself as a teacher? I believe great leaders are, amongst other things, great teachers. So here’s what we can learn from the teaching profession …

In his recent TED talk, Sir Ken Robinson gave 3 principles of great teaching, and I’ve applied this to cutting edge leadership:

1. Uniqueness
Great teachers understand the uniqueness of their students and give them individual attention. As a leader, you need to understand differing personalities. For example, if you’re an extroverted leader (read: loud and proud social butterfly), don’t expect your more introverted followers to be as good at the “meet and greet” part of their job as you are. Don’t get frustrated by them, encourage them. Teach them.

Whatever kind of person you’re leading, seek to understand them. Put yourself in their shoes. Try see the world through their eyes. You’ll not only do a better job of leading them, you’ll expand yourself a hang of a lot

2. Curiosity
Great teachers encourage curiosity in their students. Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it certainly also birthed the leader. That itching desire to know more, to expand one’s horizons, to find out how things work and how they can work better – those are all signs of latent leadership.

So teach your followers to ask questions. Thousands of questions. And not to stop until they find the answers. Because if the key to breakthroughs is resourcefulness, then the key to resourcefulness is inquisitiveness. And on a similar note, investigation and experimentation, both core aspects of the learning process, are also vital to creative breakthroughs.

3. Creativity
Great teachers teach creatively. So do you lead creatively? Mix it up in your meetings. Change the order of the agenda. Meet outside. Play games in your meetings. Communicate visually. Immerse your followers in an experience, like going away for a weekend together.

Cross-pollinate. Put team members from different departments together for a brainstorming session. Or take your teams and visit a company in another sector for a day to see what new ideas are birthed that way.

Now, the above principles aren’t the be all and end all of leadership, but I wager that if you apply these three principles to the teams you lead, you’ll be well on your way to getting the best out of your individual team members.

Have you ever considered yourself as a teacher, leading your team members into a greater discovery of their own trade? How can you accelerate their learning? Can you bring them to the place where they are inspired to learn on their own?


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