Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lead Like a Teacher - Focus on the Follower

In my previous three posts, I linked the skills of leaders and teachers by comparing the five critical behaviors of ateacher to associated leadership skills. I'm a former teacher and I find myself using my teacher skills and behaviors every day. I have deep regard for the skills of a good teacher and this series of posts is my proposal that thoseteacher skills are also essential leadership skills.

Here is the complete list of the critical teacher behaviors and the same behaviors applied to leadership:

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.

In this post, I focus on the the third critical behavior of teachers and leaders, maintain the focus on the learner or follower.

In teaching, the activities of the teacher need to focus on the learner. It's another simple concept. Teaching is not a brain dump or continuous lecture of information. Learning requires active participation of the learner.

Constructionist theories of learning propose that the teacher is a facilitator who crafts a learning experience that allows the learner to construct their own understanding of the content. The activities of a good teacher should center around learning (learner-focused) and not about teaching (teacher-focused). Teaching is not a performance. It's about learning.

The activities of a good leader should also focus on the follower and not the leader. A good leader is not about command and control. It is about facilitating, coordinating, collaborating, trusting and influencing. It's a big job and it's difficult.

Here are some snippets of previous Lead Quiety posts that focus on this concept.

From Leading from Below:

Focus on influence, not control.
Enlist people around you to work on a common cause. Try to get people to act on their own. Adopt the perspective of the people around you. Don't hoard information. Share it. Keep things simple and clear and win the devotion of the people around you. Think influence not control.

From Hiding your Leadership come one of my favorite leadership quotations, quote from Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu,

As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. … When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!

From my Quiet Leader Hall of Fame series, featuring Dwight Eisenhower, we learned that Eisenhower was always team focused:

Eisenhower never used the word "I". It was always "we," except one time when he wrote out the message that would be handed to the press in the event the landings failed. And there he used the personal vertical pronoun, it's my fault, I did it. Otherwise it was always "we".

From Be a good leader. Be incomplete. Don't be perfect, don't even try. I quote Peter Senge and others who wrote in the Harvard Business Review:

... the sooner leaders stop trying to be all things to all people, the better off their organizations will be. In today’s world, the executive’s job is no longer to command and control but to cultivate and coordinate the actions of others at all levels of the organization. Only when leaders come to see themselves as incomplete—as having both strengths and weaknesses—will they be able to make up for their missing skills by relying on others.

In summary, isn't leadership really more about followership? A good leader should focus focus on the follower andlead like a teacher.

Thanks for reading and please lead quietly.


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