Why Leaders Need to Be Teachers (and 3 tips for getting started)

A lot of leaders are disappointed these days. Even though they work hard to provide clear direction to their people, when they check in on progress at the end of the month, they often find that little has changed.

The problem, according to Dr. Vicki Halsey of The Ken Blanchard Companies is that leaders confuse telling with teaching.  In a recent article for the Blanchard Companies’ Ignite! newsletter, Halsey explains that, “If leaders want people to develop new behaviors, they have to become better teachers of what to do and how to do it.”

For leaders looking to get started, Halsey recommends three strategies:

1. Break Learning Down into Manageable Chunks

Leaders need to give people an opportunity to learn the new skills over time, using a variety of different modalities that go beyond a one-time exposure to the content.

2. Create Meaning to Embed Learning

Executives need to generate meaning for the new learning. They need to answer the question “Why is this important for me to learn?” Generating this meaning and connecting it to learning the new skill helps people retain the skill over the long term because now they can see the importance of the task.

3. Remember the 70/30 Rule

According to Halsey, “When people are getting ready for a presentation they focus 70 percent of their time on what they are going to say.” Halsey believes this time would be better spent thinking about how to create a learner-centered environment that helps people learn. As she explains, “Leaders need to shift their focus and spend only 30 percent of their time worrying about what they need to say and 70 percent on how to create the greatest transfer of learning to their participants.

According to Halsey, “The biggest thing is to teach, not tell. Very often leaders think that because they are telling people what they want them to do, people are turning around and doing it. We need to realize that teaching, not telling, is a discipline at which all leaders need to become effective—because the more you teach, the more people will learn and the more successful they will be.”

You can read more of Halsey’s advice to leaders at Leaders Need to Be Teachers.  Also check out Halsey’s free July 20 webinar on 6 Keys to Creating Learning Experiences that Inspire and Engage courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies.

3 thoughts on “Why Leaders Need to Be Teachers (and 3 tips for getting started)

  1. Pingback: Why Leaders Need to Be Teachers « Peel Leadership Centre

  2. As a retired school superintendent, I used to tell people that I was not a professor, but “I teach”; I was not an author, but “I write”;but as an educational leader “I put into practice what we know”.

  3. Usually I don’t read post on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to try and do so! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thank you, quite great article.

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