Leaders as Teachers

 · 2 mins read

Over the past week, I was on vacation at Cape May, NJ. As a native of the southeastern Pennsylvania region, my family enjoys multiple trips “down the shore” every summer and I always make sure to bring some reading material along for the many hours we inevitably spend at the beach.

This summer, I’m lucky to have received numerous book suggestions from friends and colleagues who know about my participation in PSEL. Naturally, with so many titles that all sound so good, I have a fairly lengthy reading list. It made sense to use my beach time to read into some of the great selections I’ve been loaned, given, or purchased.

Last week, I made some serious progress into a collection of Harvard Business Review articles out of “HBR’s 10 Must Reads: On Change Management.” At first I was skeptical about this. After all, I work in the business school and I’ve seen some of the material that comes out of HBR. However, this collection is phenomenal and full of great takeaways. Luckily a colleague lent me this book, and although I have to return it, I may end up purchasing this one myself to have in my personal collection.

While there are a ton of great insights to be had from these readings, one thing that has stood out most clearly to me so far is that leaders are kind of like the ultimate teachers. When they do their jobs well, not only are they contributing leaps and bounds to the organization, but they are also helping employees realize their potential and showing them new ways of doing their jobs better.

One case where this was most clear from the readings was in “Tipping Point Leadership” by Kim & Mauborgne, which details the overhaul of the NYPD. This massive change effort was lead by Bill Bratton, who oversaw multiple other massive changes in places like Boston and LA. The case details how Bratton not only pushed the organization to change, but made himself a key change agent by showing and teaching others the strategies that would turn the NYPD around.

Viewing leaders as teachers is actually a really serendipitous discovery for me, though it makes a ton of sense. As someone who has been a teacher in some form for their entire professional career, it seems perfectly sensible that I would strive to be a leader who could help enlighten others and encourage new ways of thinking about long-established processes and procedures to benefit an organization. I want to be the same type of person as a leader that I was as a teacher: someone who helps people achieve their professional goals and unlock their potential.

If you are interested in the book, it’s listed at Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Change-Management-including-featured-Leading/dp/1422158004