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Do You Teach in the Moment?

Thursday, May 29, 2014
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Highly effective leader-teachers create teachable moments. They also take advantage of naturally occurring teachable moments that happen throughout a typical work day and, frequently, numerous times during a week of business and organizational life. We call this teaching in the moment. Four keys to effectively teach in the moment are:

  • Identify missed and upcoming opportunities to be more effective.
  • Plan teaching moments so that others can benefit.
  • Prepare to take advantage of situations when these moments occur so that those involved can learn from the experience.
  • Lead, teach, and facilitate others to regularly reflect on and learn from their experiences.

Every leader can capitalize on learning opportunities by using these four principles.
Below are a few examples of teaching in the moment. As you read these examples, think about how you can encourage similar teaching and learning opportunities to occur more regularly throughout your organization.

An executive helps a group of leaders who are involved in a very difficult multi-million dollar decision-making process about a new product. He does so by reminding them to “do the right thing” when balancing the issues of safety, ethics, and market potential.

A VP of marketing always reserves 30 to 60 minutes for a learning discussion after her direct report makes a presentation to senior management.

In the midst of a team dispute, the team leader calls “time-out” and then leads a no-blame, no-lose conflict resolution session. The issue is resolved, and cooler heads are able to discuss and learn from what led to the argument.

A leader regularly holds scheduled—as well as spontaneous—“walk-and-talks” to discuss issues of the day and to learn from one another on topics important to the team.

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Joan is famous in her company for how much she can discuss, analyze, and teach in a five-minute period going from meeting to meeting in the spacious hallways of her company.

After reflecting on the above examples, share answers to the following questions in the comment section below.

How effective are you at teaching in the moment?

What are two or three opportunities you can identify in the upcoming week to teach in the moment?

During the next month, when it comes to teaching in the moment, how do you plan to be a more effective leader-teacher?

Learn more from Leaders as Teachers Action Guide: Proven Approaches for Unlocking Success in Your Organizationavailable now.

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About the Author
Ed Betof, EdD, is a senior fellow in human capital, at The Conference Board (TCB). He is also the program director for TCB’s Executive Council on Talent and Organization Development and the coach/facilitator for TCB’s Global Executive Council. He was a co-developer of the pioneering TCB/NASA leadership experience based on NASA’s Apollo program. Ed is president of Betof Associates, a consulting firm specializing in executive coaching, leadership, and career development. Ed is an adjunct executive and team coach for the Center for Creative Leadership. He has been a faculty member with the Institute for Management Studies since 2008. Ed was a founding senior fellow and an academic director of Penn’s chief learning officer doctoral program. After nearly a 40 year corporate and educational leadership career, Ed retired in December 2007 from BD (Becton, Dickinson, and Company) a global medical technology and human diagnostics company where he was the worldwide vice president of talent management and chief learning officer. Ed was an ASTD Board member from 2004 to 2007. During this period, he also chaired the executive committee of TCB’s Council on Learning, Development and Organizational Performance. He has served on Pennsylvania State University’s Outreach Advisory Board since 2008. Ed is the author of Leaders as Teachers: Unlock the Teaching Potential of Your Company’s Best and Brightest (2009) and co-author of Just Promoted: A 12 Month Roadmap for Success in Your New Leadership Role (1992, 2010). Ed has authored or co-authored several dozen articles, manuals, and guides. Ed received his doctorate from Temple University in 1976.
About the Author
Lisa Owens is a learning expert who applies learning sciences to create training programs that move businesses forward. She designs training for the in-person and virtual classrooms and the web. Lisa founded Training Design Strategies LLC in 2012 to help companies achieve their goals through the power of training. Beyond her current client work, she is an instructor for Ohio University’s instructional design graduate program and on GC-ASTD’s Executive Advisory Board. She is co-author of the college textbook Your Career: How to Make It Happen, the books Leaders as Teachers Action Guide and Lo start-up di una Corporate University, and a series of articles for CorpU on creating corporate universities. Lisa holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a master’s degree in education.
About the Author
Sue Todd is chief strategy officer at CorpU. She works with faculty at leading business schools, including Wharton, IESE, the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and others, to adapt executive education programs to the practical needs of leaders. Sue has advised Global 2000 organizations on innovative learning and leadership development strategies since 1994. With more than 20 years experience, she has consulted with firms like Coca-Cola, Aetna, Exxon, The Boeing Company, HP, Pfizer, M&M Mars, and others to address the dynamic conditions of the 21st Century. Her current work focuses on complexity science, and how it reveals cracks in current organizational structures and practices under increasing marketplace dynamism. She is identifying approaches that can prepare leaders to embrace emergence and guide organization adaptability. Prior to joining CorpU, Sue was VP of product management for KnowledgePlanet, where she directed the evolution of the first web-based learning management system, the first business-to-business eLearning marketplace and technology-based performance management solutions. She helped both media and industry analysts shape the LMS and e-learning industries. Sue has been interviewed by  The Wall Street JournalFortune MagazineUSA TodayThe New York TimesGreentree Gazette, Workforce Week, and other HR and learning industry publications. She has published articles in  Leadership Excellence, CLOTraining and  T&D Magazines. Sue has spoken at New York University, Bellvue University, ASTD ICE, Tuskegee University, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. And for two years, in 2006 and 2007, she ran Training Director’s Forum on behalf of Training Magazine.
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