Sunday, February 6, 2011

Great Leaders Should Behave Like a Teacher

There are some obvious common elements at the intersection of leadership and teaching. Perhaps the most obvious is that good teachers are leaders.

However, the intersection took a different direction last week after reading an article on brain health on the Lifehacker site. The post, Top 10 Tips and Tricks to Train, Exercise, and Better Your Brain describes ten activities that can exercise your mental muscles. Sodoku, math exercises and writing are good examples.

The tip that took me in a different direction was the post's suggestion to "Act Like You're Teaching." The post encourages us to exercise our brain by pretending "as though you're teaching yourself how to do" something.

This tip caused me to consider the intersection of teaching and leadership. I'm a proud, former teacher who values the skills of a good teacher. During my days as a teacher I was part of an instructional skills development program that introduced me to the work and teaching techniques developed by Madeline C. Hunter. Her work and research demonstrated that effective teachers have a methodology and exhibit key critical behaviors when planning and presenting a lesson.

Although Hunter is best know for her Instructional Theory into Practice teaching model, part of her work also included the Five Critical Behaviors of a Teacher. To this day, I can recite those five behaviors as:

  1. Teach to an objective.
  2. Select the right level of difficulty.
  3. Focus on the learner and the learning.
  4. USE without abuse the Principles of Learning
  5. Monitor and Adjust

I have always thought that those same behaviors of a teacher can be applied to leadership. There are teacher behaviors from this list that I use every day. However, until now, I had never lined them up directly as I have done below where I associate each critical teacher behavior with a related leadership behavior:

Five Critical Behaviors of a Teacher

Five Critical Behaviors of a Leader

Teach to an objective

Lead to an objective. Have clarity in your misison.

SELECT an objective at the appropriate level of difficulty.

Put people in a position and role where they can succeed. Pursue clarity in roles.

MAINTAIN the focus of the learner on the learning.

MAINTAIN the focus on the follower.

USE without abuse the Principles of Learning (Active Participation, Motivation, Closure, Reinforcement)

USE without abuse the Principles of leadership (Active Participation, Motivation, Engagement, Trust)

MONITOR and adjust.

MONITOR and adjust.

The five behaviors can very nicely align with corresponding behaviors that we expect from leaders.

In the next few posts on Lead Quietly, I intend to explore the intersection of teaching and leadership through this aligned set of behaviors.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly and act like a teacher.


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