Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. – Benjamin Franklin
At school one day a little boy was asked what he was thankful for. The boy replied, “My glasses.” “That’s good,” said the teacher, “they help you see better.”
“No,” responded the child, “I’m thankful for my glasses because they keep the other boys from hitting and fighting with me and the girls from kissing me.”
While perhaps not the reason the teacher had expected to hear, the little boy made his point. As leaders we’ve all benefited from good teachers that have shaped our lives. As a leader you are now in that role and the life lessons you share are just as important.
John Maxwell said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” This is one of your functions as a leader. While it may not be in a formal classroom setting it is teaching nonetheless and the lessons are important. Here are ten lessons every leader should always be teaching. It’s not an exhaustive list but these are essential.
How to give praise.
Just as students tend to respond better to praise the same holds true with your team members. When the people in your business or organization receive praise and encouragement from you they come away with the sense that you have their backs. Give them praise and give it generously.
How to listen.
This is one of the most important skills that you will develop as a leader. Many leaders like to talk but you will be a more effective leader when you learn to listen and hear what others have to say. From what you learn you can make better and more informed decisions.
How to say no.
While listening may be one of the most important things to teach saying no will be one of the hardest. Many good ideas from well-meaning people will come across your desk. Be it the timing, the budget, or some other factor, sometimes the answer is no. How you say no is important. Take the time to explain why.
How to work hard.
Your team members will learn more from your example than by your words. If you want them to work hard then they need to see you work hard. Leadership by example is not just a cliché it is real and practical. When they see that you have skin and sweat in the game they will join you.
How to let things go.
As a leader you will face many challenges and many frustrations. People get on your nerves and rub you the wrong way. You have pressures, deadlines, and disappointments. Teach your team how to let things go and not get so stressed out over every little obstacle that comes your way. Not everything you set out to do is always going to go according to plan. But that’s okay. Let it go.
How to confront.
This is one of the least favorite things a leader has to do. We’d much rather be giving out praise. But there are those times as a leader when you must confront others for whatever reason. How you confront needs to be a teachable moment that shows how to be firm, how to be fair, and that you have accountability measures in place that you are not afraid to enforce. How you do it is just as important as why you do it.
How to say thank you.
This one simple act can make a world of difference. Why it’s hard at times for leaders to do I am not sure. But if you want to see the atmosphere in your office or organization improve then take the time to thank those around you for all of their hard work. And while you are at it – make it personal. Hand-written notes are especially nice.
How to forgive.
Hang around in leadership long enough and you will understand the power of forgiveness. You will learn about the necessity of giving it and receiving it. The point is simply this – life is too short to hold grudges and hold on to resentments. Forgive others and move on.
How to set priorities.
Jim Rohn said, “Either you run the day or the day runs you.” People in your organization need to see that you have a set of priorities that you live by – family, faith, work etc. You teach priorities by your routines and time management. What’s important to you is given priority. It’s that simple.
How to delegate.
Delegation is the key to your success and that involves everyone in the process. Delegation is not just by divvying up work for the sake of having something to do. It’s about matching the right people with the right skills to maximize productivity and results. You were not meant to do it all by yourself. Delegate your way to success.
What do you say?
© 2014 Doug Dickerson
I welcome your feedback:
1. What lesson stood out to you the most? Why?
2. What lessons would you add to this list?
3. What are some practical ways you can begin to implement some of these lessons right away?