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The best leaders are great teachers

Leaders must lead with their actions as well as their words. This is the all important premise for ‘leading by example’.

Great leaders in our midst understand the importance and value of putting people (employees) ahead of profit through the values of community and collaboration. This is an emotional currency and one that is rapidly becoming a cornerstone of workplaces the world over. At the heart of this is a commitment to educate and inspire – two virtuous qualities that go hand-in-hand with teaching.

While at face value a teaching qualification may appear to be niche and native to the education sector, the reality is quite different. The best leaders – regardless of industry – are teachers. In thinking about the role that business owners or managers play in supporting their staff, teaching is right at the heart of this support. From helping a craft to be refined to offering wisdom about life, leaders are literally teaching their employees on the job.

A qualification like the New Zealand Certificate in Adult and Tertiary Training can provide a robust and credible foundation to gain the skills needed to meaningfully share knowledge and experience. Here are just some of the ways skills can be improved through a teaching qualification:

Seizing the moment: identifying the right time to impart wisdom takes a well trained eye and ear. Meetings and training provide a formal environment to offer staff direction, but a great leader also understands that inspiring and upskilling employees is spontaneous as well as strategic. It may be recognising someone’s time of need or helping to turn a failure into a win; in either case, leaders are always ready to lend a hand and offer sage advice.

Customised instruction: a great leader understands that not everyone learns the same way. Some are visual others kinesthetic – leading means taking the time to teach employees in the way that helps them to fulfil their potential. This takes time and patience and a willingness to get to know each employee. While it might not be feasible for the CEO to do this in a larger company, they can empower their leadership team to take this approach.

Life lessons: while it is important to maintain professional boundaries, great employer/employee relationships evolve from partnerships predicated on trust and transparency. A teaching degree enables the development of skills that help employees set goals – short, medium and long-term that may involve personal and professional life. This is not surprising given there is always a degree of overlap between the two. Great leaders offer a friendly and always professional ear to their junior colleagues which is absolutely possible with appropriate boundaries in place.