There is a growing body of research that suggests business, organizational, and individual value is realized when leaders serve as teachers in their organizations. Chapter 1 of the Leaders as Teachers Action Guide provides evidence from studies conducted in corporations and academia. These findings include widespread use of the leaders-as-teachers method in organizations (90 percent), according to respondents of a 2013 Conference Board survey. Additionally, respondents reported high levels of perceived business and organizational benefits of the leaders-as-teachers approach, citing development of employees and emerging leaders as the highest benefit (70 percent), followed by the strengthening of organizational culture and communications (60 percent).
How are organizations using leaders as teachers?
Contemporary businesses and organizations of many types and sizes are implementing a leaders-as-teachers approach in many ways. Examples range from leaders teaching orientation programs to functional knowledge and skills training to compliance and regulatory training. Leaders are especially—and extensively—involved in leadership and executive development programs. Other examples include overseeing action learning projects and facilitating strategy development and organizational problem solution sessions. In many professions such as medicine, nursing, law enforcement, the military, sales, and the construction crafts, instruction by senior professionals and leaders of their respective institutions and companies is commonplace. Additionally, in all types of organizations, opportunities for in the moment teaching and coaching occur daily for leaders. The Leaders as Teachers Action Guide provides in-depth examples and mini case studies throughout the book.
One common progression for leader-teachers is to first experience a program as a participant. The leader might then observe a program while interacting with faculty behind the scenes. Next, she might teach part of a program for which the likelihood of success is high. From there the leader-teacher may teach other parts of the program that would be less familiar or comfortable for her. The ultimate progression would end with her teaching or co-teaching the entire program.
What are the primary benefits of the leaders-as-teachers approach?
The leaders-as-teachers approach provides six primary benefits:
- helps drive business results
- stimulates the learning and development of leaders and associates
- improves the leadership skills of those who teach
- strengthens organizational culture and communications
- promotes positive business and organizational change
- reduces costs by leveraging top talent
What future trends and best practices do you predict?
We think leaders increasingly will be expected to fill the roles of teacher and coach. CEOs now cite having highly qualified professionals and leaders as one of their biggest challenges. Skills gaps and weaknesses in leadership pipelines have increased in recent years, and this unfortunate trend is projected to continue globally for years to come. Leaders who focus on development will prove to be more successful in their organizations.
We expect to see increases in the use of in-person teaching, especially for leadership programs and very select skills programs. Finally, we project high growth of leader-teacher practices in the areas of social collaborative teaching and learning, as well as more regular in the moment teaching.