Best-selling author, educator, leader, speaker and coach Sydney Finkelstein has spent much of his career researching and observing the effectiveness of various leadership and management styles. One simple but powerful observation he made is, "The exceptional leaders I studied were teachers through and through."
If you hold a position of influence in corporate management, earning a doctoral degree in education with a focus on leadership and innovation will improve your teaching skills and give you an edge when developing strong teams and effective, compelling initiatives.
The Importance and Value of Being a Teacher in a Leadership Position
Strong leaders are well-versed in their industries and possess effective management skills. Using their knowledge and understanding to elevate the performance of those they supervise, is key to their professional and corporate success.
When leaders take time to work one-on-one with their direct reports, everyone benefits. This practice is not widespread, although it has proven to be most effective in business settings. According to Finkelstein, consistent educational support of a leader or manager "fosters not just competence or compliance but mastery of skills and independence of thought and action."
In addition, when leaders are teachers, they tend to be better listeners. While building relationships with employees during teachable moments, leaders are in a much better position to hear individual ideas and comments. They are also more likely to learn about employee concerns and needs.
Important Teaching Skills for Corporate Leaders
Whether you are a teacher in the classroom or the conference room, good teaching skills are both timeless and universal. As you work with either individuals or teams to help them grow and become increasingly informed and independent, these educational approaches are key:
Embrace diverse learning styles: Finkelstein states, "Best-in-class educators embrace personalization, tailoring lessons and support to match students' individual learning profiles. And great business leaders do the same thing." Although it may be more efficient to bring in a highly-trained corporate trainer for all-company rollouts or new-employee fundamentals, nothing compares to leaders who get to know each person they influence and mentor.
Ask questions: Strong teaching leaders do not simply lecture about what they believe is most important. They ask questions and determine what their protégé already knows.
Create "teachable moments": Leaders who succeed as teachers do not wait for the perfect teaching opportunity. They find pockets of times, like at a casual lunch or on the manufacturing floor, to address pertinent issues, questions and new ideas.
Model: At times, no direct instruction is required at all. By simply doing the right thing or practicing what the expected behavior looks like, the corporate manager can teach by example. This can be a powerful teaching tool, especially when the mentor and protégé are working together in the field, in front of clients or customers or in a large group setting.
Become a Teaching Leader
In the Doctor of Education in Leadership and Innovation program, offered online by Florida-based St. Thomas University, corporate leaders develop and hone effective teaching skills. Courses like Leading a Learning Organization and Strategic Leadership and Global Change prepare students to "become designers and members of organizations that encourage organizational learning."
Students will learn how "to restructure and create empowering environments in their organizations." With no teaching degree or experience required, "This degree is ideal for advancing your professional capacities to formulate innovative solutions whether you work in a nonprofit, sales, corporate, education, or government environment."
According to business coach and speaker, Gordon Tredgold, "Long gone are the days when leaders hoarded information for power." The most effective corporate leaders find frequent opportunities to share both information and knowledge to improve the skills of their employees, helping them become more valuable to the company and more satisfied in their jobs.
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