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Setting yourself apart as a leader means stepping up as a teacher

Too often, management is seen as task managing. Step-by-step process management that is more akin to ruling and dictating than it is with actually leading. The best managers bring a flavor of insight that can be meaningful for the teams they manage, and they can get into the real nervous system of their organizations by looking deeply at behaviors that are driving the key members of their teams. 

Doing so provides a layer of introspection, but more importantly, it provides teams with confidence that their leader is looking at ways to guide and grow them beyond task management. This level of engagement takes a more active role, requiring them to look for ways to make information and operations stick ... much like a teacher might when honing in on important education opportunities.

For this blog post, my friend and colleague Stephanie Limb, THA vice president of advocacy communications, distinguished the importance of teaching and how being a great manager also means diving into operations as a great teacher. You can follow her on Twitter here.

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Setting yourself apart as a leader means stepping up as a teacher

In his 1903 play Man and Superman, Bernard Shaw wrote the infamous line, “Those who can, do. Those who cannot, teach.” He intended it to disparage the profession of teaching. Yet, when we think about our role as leaders in an organization, teaching is a critical … but often an underrated and underappreciated … component.

Competitive athletes live and die by goal achievement. Medals earned. Touchdowns completed. ERA. Each day’s work is dictated by the goals yet to be achieved. Yesterday’s accomplishment is in the past, and the focus is always on the future.

But maintaining the highest level of physical fitness, competitive edge and mental toughness is a full-time job, and even the very best of the bunch usually have less than 10 years of peak performance…and glory. (Tom Brady aside, but that’s for another post).

Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Mike Ditka, Jacques Lemaire, Pat Summit and Joe Torre all dominated the court, rink or field in their particular sports. What distinguishes them, however, is that they parlayed their immense athletic talent into coaching….into bringing out the best in others to achieve what they already had achieved years earlier. Their careers as athletes didn’t end at 25 or 30 just because they could no longer run as fast or hit as hard as they could at 21 or 22. They had much longer, and eventually much more storied, careers than their peer athletes who retired when the physical demands of the profession could no longer be met.

And they did it by becoming teachers.

This isn’t to say that leaders in an organization are long in tooth and beard and no longer can or want to achieve their own goals. It means that the most successful, the ones who will be remembered, the ones who leave a legacy will share what they have learned with the next generation.

We often can get caught up in the day-to-day management of our teams. Have tasks been completed? Is work being done according to specifications? Are meetings being attended? It can be challenging to take the time to teach ... to share the full range of one’s experiences, positive and negative, and lessons learned from each.

Think about what one learns over a career. The ins and outs and working details of a specific industry are important. But much more meaningful and valuable are things like, how to negotiate effectively, how to influence, how to communicate, how to have difficult conversations, how to master one’s emotions, how to get really good at your chosen profession. That knowledge can’t be obtained from a lecture or a book or a webinar. It’s earned. And because it’s earned, it’s wisdom. That’s precisely what makes it so valuable and why it must be shared.

Setting and achieving our own career goals is important and satisfying. But giving of ourselves through teaching our co-workers, particularly those starting out on the leadership path, is what distinguishes leaders who are remembered from employees who have merely achieved.

*****Stephanie Limb is vice president of advocacy communications for the Texas Hospital Association. She joined THA in 2013 where she plays a unique role dealing with public policy and legislative issues affecting Texas hospitals and the patients they serve.******

About the Author

Lance Lunsford Lance Lunsford is the president/CEO of HealthShare and THA chief marketing/business development officer. In his multifaceted role, Lunsford oversees THA’s member communications, marketing, advocacy communications, and business development. At HealthShare, he leads the for-profit THA subsidiary that collaborates with more than 50 THA-endorsed companies. Prior to joining THA, Lunsford served UMC Health System in Lubbock, Texas, as director of corporate marketing. Lunsford has a master’s degree in business administration from Texas Tech University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University.