Its not easy to teach people how to think, yet this skill is a must for effective leadership. It requires patience and foresight...and time. Yet if we don't teach others how to think on their own, we waste time in the long run because our subordinates will be forever dependent upon our knowledge base for answers.
A leader who doesn't teach stunts his own personal growth and destines himself to the "same old, same old". This type of leader "teaches" people how to be forever followers.
I believe that the best leaders teach people to think by following a coaching model, whether they realize it or not. Coaching and leadership go hand in hand. Interestingly enough, coaching is a learning model.
The primary competencies of professional coaching, grouped into the four main categories of listening, creating awareness, planning and managing progress mirror the skills necessary for leaders to get things done through people. Let's take a look at how each core area enhances a leader's ability to teach.
- Listening - Through the gift of listening, leaders demonstrate humility and respect. Additionally, new ideas often emerge when people process out loud.
- Creating Awareness - Great questions create learning because they encourage thinking. The process of answering a question creates more learning than a "lecture".
- Planning and Goal Setting - A good action plan teaches us to stretch beyond what we might ordinarily think possible.
- Managing progress and accountability - Done well, accountability teaches us to celebrate our success and to reflect and course correct if necessary.
When we teach others to think through a coaching model, we free ourselves up to blaze new trails and we build trust in those we lead in the process. As leaders, teaching the way a coach teaches is a win-win for everyone concerned!
What are your experiences as either a leader or learner? What developmental techniques have worked for you as you've mentored others? Leave your comment below to share your expertise.
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