We need greater role models in the form of teachers, scientists, entrepreneurs, etc. who will show us that it’s okay to be proud of who we are and not apologise for doing well.
– Cheryl Ann Fernando, teacher who inspired the film Adiwiraku
Great leaders are teachers - I really believe that. The English philosopher John Locke was staunch in his belief that knowledge should be passed on, and that development of character was the most important thing for people to learn. The Greek philosopher Aristotle was the teacher of Alexander the Great, and wrote on a number of subjects including metaphysics, poetry, and zoology.
Confucius, the great Chinese thinker, was a strong advocate for personal and governmental morality, whose teachings greatly influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese culture.
These historical icons are still referenced by many throughout the world, and their influence points strongly to what may be the central pillar of leadership: the ability to teach. Business magnate Warren Buffett has offered his pearls of wisdom to Microsoft owner, Bill Gates through the years; Steve Jobs was a guiding light for Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg; and iconic songwriter Bob Dylan developed his unique style thanks to the support of music legend, Woody Guthrie.
Throughout the ages, even the greatest of leaders have benefited from the guidance of teachers, and many became prominent teachers in their own right, as seen in the example of Aristotle, who was taught by Plato, who was in turn taught by Socrates. Teachers make a huge difference to leaders.
Leadership is multifaceted
Leadership is a concept with numerous elements. Leadership inspires, encourages, motivates, and sets an overall vision.
But leaders don’t last forever, and those who come after them – if legacies are to mean anything – have to know how to carry on that legacy by becoming leaders themselves.
This is why the best leaders are often great teachers, because they are aware of the need to pass on their knowledge in a way that not only motivates their followers, but also empowers them to do whatever needs done in order for progress to flourish.
Alexander the Great once said of Aristotle: “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.”
In his teachings, the Buddha talked about having two kinds of parents in our lives: those who give us life and raise us, and those teachers who help us to survive and thrive in whatever endeavours we pursue.
Pay it forward
Effective leaders can use any situation as a teaching moment. Often, the best teachers will have students who don’t always realise there’s a lesson being taught. Everything we know comes from sources other than ourselves: I learnt the words I’m typing now from someone who taught me – surgeons, nurses, lawyers, painters and musicians learn their craft from others.
Perhaps teachers are our most valuable resource besides food, water, and shelter. After all, teachers don’t just pass on their knowledge, they also instill life lessons within us through their own experiences. The best teachers show us how to succeed, thrive, and to live life well.
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READ: Understanding Why Great Leaders Go To Great Lengths To Teach Others
3 Reasons Great Teachers Make Great Leaders
1. Great teachers know how to create a strong company culture
Ask a great teacher how they create a classroom culture that inspires every student to do their best and they will be able to very clearly tell you the specific systems, structures, and social norms they implement to ensure that their classroom is filled with only excellence and joy.
Great teachers bring the same ability to create a strong culture to any other organisation. They know how to build the systems, structures, and norms necessary to motivate colleagues, attract talent, build community, and drive that community towards a collective mission.
2. Great teachers prioritise what really matters
Teaching is ultimately about the long-term well-being of children – five, 15, 30 years down the road.
Great teachers can sift through the thousands of things they could be doing to decide on the handful of things that truly make a difference.
They also know when to sacrifice potential short-term gains on less meaningful metrics in support of their students’ long-term development. As leaders, great teachers make decisions that are in the long-term interests of their company and can properly say ‘no’ to the thousands of potential distractions that do not move the company closer towards fulfilling its vision.
3. Great teachers persevere
Teachers who survive their first year, then thrive in subsequent years, do so because they come with – or learn – incredible perseverance. Unlike most professions, which place entry-level employees in positions where they are pure performers and where they have a manager who is ultimately responsible for their work, first-year teachers are immediately given the full responsibilities of their profession, 30 direct reports (also known as ‘children’) to manage, and are held fully accountable for their class’s performance.
Give a great teacher clear expectations for what they can accomplish, the space to learn, and the ownership to really make a difference, and they become great leaders who persevere until they get the job done.
Teaching has change significantly. With the advent of technology and new tools, the teaching profession is evolving. If you are a teacher and are looking for a great platform to influence and teach to the masses, check out the necole platform below: