“Teaching is Leadership.” – Wendy Koop, Teach for America

Sydney Finkelstein wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review suggesting that the best leaders are teachers. We do an exercise at training sessions where we ask folks to describe the best bosses they’ve ever encountered. Invariably, one of the characteristics used to describe effective bosses is the impact they have on learning.

Finkelstein says that bosses who teach continually create a positive environment. It makes sense. You go home better if you come to work and learn new things. If that pattern is maintained, the expectations rise, and the level of engagement increases. It stands to reason that it would improve matters.

He says effective leaders take advantage of teaching opportunities as they arise. The teaching leader takes command of underutilized minutes in meetings and plant walks to take individuals aside to point out opportunities for improvement.

The teaching leader is always alert for the opportunity to upgrade learning. He effectively and quickly makes the learning point. He doesn’t move on without determining whether the lesson has landed.

He says the teaching leader refines his skill by teaching often. If the leader establishes a record of helping someone improve, the reception is welcoming when teaching is initiated.

A team of folks who are both teachable and willing to learn is hard to beat.