Student of Leadership

I love the Buddhist saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” In my many years of teaching formal courses at the university level, I am a student right along with the class I am teaching. When I teach, I learn. I have yet to teach a class where I have not learned something from my many teachers, also known as my students. We are ever changing in this world and the cycle of learning and teaching never changes, unless of course we find ourselves closed off from learning. In order to be a good teacher, we must first be a good student.As we teach, we must remember that we are not transmitting information—we are transforming lives. That may sound a bit dramatic, but that is exactly what good teaching does; it transforms. Transformation comes about through many different forms: motivation, persuasion, mobilization, influence, and of course miracles. When we teach, we are in essence saying, I care about you, you are important, and I want to help. Wow, who wouldn’t be motivated forward with that type of message? Motivation also comes from demonstrating belief in others. Teaching affords us an opportunity to build esteem and self-efficacy. Think of Maslow’s needs hierarchy; esteem and self-actualization are the top highest levels. Teaching and learning meet both of the high order needs for yourself and for those you teach.Through the process of teaching, we build trust when we facilitate teaching with a learner-centered approach. Remembering that we are not just transferring information, but transforming others, we teach according to the needs of others. I use the same approach when I do training, coaching, or motivational speaking. First, I discover the needs of the audience and tailor my work to meet those needs. Of course, I provide resources and information to support their transformation, but first I must find out where they are stuck and where they want to grow.Effective teachers in a classroom setting know this and adjust their lesson plans to accommodate emerging needs that come up during instruction. We call these moments, teachable moments, when we can seize the opportunity and use it as a springboard for learning. A Native American proverb illustrates this concept, Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand. Once we identify the needs of the people and address those needs, then learning occurs and the outcome is performance.Remember this acronym:

  • Time – Take the time to invest in the development of others.
  • Empathy – Have empathy for those you teach, respecting the place they are in at that moment.
  • Awareness – Come into the teaching exchange with full awareness and presence.
  • Care – Create a safe space for learning to occur that is filled with care and compassion.
  • Help –Remember that when we serve others, we are truly love-based leaders.

How do you teach in your leadership roles? I love hearing from you.With love,Maria