by Chris Reinhardt, feedlot specialist
“There’s no leadership without teaching,” said a speaker at a conference I recently attended. And at the time it felt like one of those sayings that at once seems obvious and profound at the same time. But the more I unpacked that statement, I decided it wasn’t obvious at all, and yet needs to be internalized by all managers.
How rarely do the management books and pamphlets and websites discuss the teaching element of management. But at its very core, that’s exactly what management needs to be about.
We talk about managing budgets and line items and forecasting and development, but how intentional are we as managers taking our teaching role? If you’ve accepted the role of manager, then you are also both a mentor and a teacher, and there is a hefty responsibility that goes with both of those.
So hefty in fact, many simply shirk the responsibility and ignore this necessary function of their title and their office, because it’s “easy” to manage numbers and line items and budgets, but managing people is difficult. Teaching can be frustrating. “That’s not what I signed on for!” you exclaim. Wrong answer.
If you don’t actively and intentionally embrace the role of teacher, then you get what you deserve. You’ll have direct reports who either (a) don’t grow in their abilities and opportunities and will be incapable of growing the organization and changing with the fluid marketplace; or (b) they DO grow (through no contribution of yours) and then leave for a better opportunity, leaving you with only stunted, complacent, mediocre clock watchers.
And if that’s what you want, then you are just a manager, not a leader. Leaders lead, and to actively lead, you need to engage with your team members. And once you engage, at an intimate, face-to-face, heart-to-heart level, it will become abundantly clear to you what the people on your team need in order to develop and grow, and you will eagerly and desperately desire to fulfill those needs, because you know that intellectual development is exactly what stands between your organization and greatness.
It’s a fatal fallacy to say that leaders only want followers; real leaders want to build and develop new leaders who will carry the organization forward. That is the legacy of the real leader: the new leaders they have trained who follow in their path after they choose to step aside. If you refuse to teach and develop your people, your legacy will retire with you and your shadow will fade with the next sunrise.