What Great Leaders and Awesome Teachers Have in Common
Then, they'll do anything.
A friend of mine who is a great teacher told me that the most important thing a teacher has to do is show the students that she cares about them. Once the students believe this (and faking it won't work), they will understand that whatever you're asking them to do is in their best interests.
But you cannot tell your students or your teammates how to go about accomplishing the goals central to the team's mission.
Really, you don't actually want to. Teams and classrooms shine when their individual members bring unique perspectives and approaches to the problem at hand.
And the only way they will do that is if they are inspired and feel like their contributions are valued.
If they don't know how to do what you need from them, they will figure it out far better than you just showing them. As long as they care, they will find a way. (As a tutor, I've found that I don't always have to know the material better than my student. I just have to inspire them to care enough so they can figure it out).
The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. - William Arthur Warm
This is teaching and leading: getting someone to acquire skills.
Ultimately, great leadership is all about creating an environment where the team can learn and improve itself.
The learning might be internal--teammates learning how to work together--or it might be external--learning to respond to market conditions--or a combination.
But you know good leadership when you see it because the team being led is able to adapt to challenges and get its job done.
Essentially, it is able to learn quickly thanks to the leader(s) ability to support learning.
Here's how they do it.
Leaders can support learning in a variety of ways:
- Protecting a team from external pressures (especially true in large corporations where the team is a small development team)
- Creating an environment where mistakes are not punished, but seen as learning opportunities
- Actually connecting teammates with the resources they need to do their work or improve
- Understanding what motivates individual teammates and making sure they see a connection between that and their work
- Handling motivation, inspiration, and team dynamics while the authority handles process and delegation
Try it yourself.
Find out why your teammates/classmates show up every day. Then think about ways you can help them connect their passion with the group's work.