Leaders are teachers

Effective leaders are effective teachers.

Let me illustrate this key principle with two examples from my own past:

  1. For a period of time in the Canadian Army I was attached to an infantry battalion preparing for a long exercise with U.S.  Marines on the north end of Vancouver Island. The terrain itself was complex and dangerous, characterized by rocky ground, deep, fast rivers, dense bush and thick dead fall. The battalion commanding officer (CO) had prepared a detailed 3D table top model of the exercise area overlayed with his plan. Officers and senior non-commissioned officers (NCOs) were clearly expected to brief their soldiers using this model. A few days before we boarded the U.S. Navy ships the CO had each platoon without their officers and NCOs into the map room where he questioned them about the terrain and the plan. He did not criticize soldiers who failed to answer correctly. That feedback he saved for their officers who were then given time for remedial briefings.
  2. The last VP of Human Resources that I worked for in business was a respected member of our company's management committee (MC) and a respected individual adviser to the CEO. Before any HR staffer presented to the MC our boss reviewed the material in detail to insure his own understanding and provide feedback. A few days before the meeting he met individually with the other members of the MC and the CEO to review the key points and understand their questions. As needed he would provide this information to the HR presenters. Our reviews with MC were consistently effective and often pleasurable.


These two effective leaders demonstrated similar behaviors:

  • They provided tools, training and an environment  that helped their people succeed.
  • They were very clear about their expectations.
  • They required accountability.
  • They tested for understanding, provided feedback when needed and allowed the time to adjust.


These leaders taught skills and modeled behavior. They were in fact effective teachers.

Learn more about teaching, management and leadership from Angela Maiershttp://www.angelamaiers.com/

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