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Tim Cork is the president of Straight A’s Inc., an international provider of leadership development, coaching and sales training.
Tim Cork is the president of Straight A’s Inc., an international provider of leadership development, coaching and sales training.

Leadership Lab

To be a leader, you need to be a teacher too Add to ...

This column is part of Globe Careers’ new Leadership Lab series, where executives and leadership experts share their views and advice about the leadership and management issues of today. There will be a new column every weekday. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab

To teach is to learn at a much deeper level. In fact, to teach is to learn twice.

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Teaching is also the ultimate gift. Great teachers and leaders become experts and are able to elevate those around them.

Your leadership is defined by your ability to teach and your ability to help others. For example, goals are both defined and taught to people in your organization. Pretty well everything in life requires good teaching.

Teaching is a two-way process

When teaching, use straightforward language. Be concise and articulate and say exactly what you mean. You have to account for different aptitudes and attitudes and how you will be perceived. And don’t ever believe you can please all the people in the room. You need to observe the reactions of others and build from that.

In order to organize how you teach, break your material into logical and sequential building blocks, then build on each point. You need to encourage feedback questions and audience participation as well as use visual aids, stories, and humour.

Great teachers tell great stories. We learn from stories because they appeal to our emotions and stories are much easier to digest than straightforward information. Can you build what you want to say into a story?

Great leaders are great teachers

As a leader, you need to have an attitude of teaching, not telling. It’s up to you to maximize the potential of those you lead in order to best serve your organization. When you can make your people feel good about themselves, and when you recognize them for their efforts – that’s when the magic starts to happen.

Leaders must understand that the three key motivators are contribution, recognition, and financial reward.

Leaders are coaches and need coaches

Coaching enhances performance in organizations and it is a great way to teach at a deeper level. Leaders, therefore, must be good coaches. They also need coaches themselves.

I’m a big believer in providing a combination of team and individual coaching to companies. I believe it’s much more effective for people to be coached by external coaches. This enables them to share what’s really going on in their work and in the organization. Internal coaching, in contrast, is always influenced by departmental agendas and bias and competitiveness.

For executives today, the demands and pace of business life are increasing, creating a greater need for reliability, accountability, and authentic leadership. This is where coaching comes in. It can enable transformational change.

Coaching can provide a place for executives to calibrate their strategy and evaluate themselves and their performance. This may be one of the few ways they can get candid feedback, guidance, and the development they need in preparing for the future.

Executives and leaders have come to see the value of coaching, both for themselves and their organizations. In most companies, there is no longer any stigma to having a coach. In fact, being coached is now seen as a normal or even a high-prestige development activity.

Coaching provides an opportunity, in the face of relentless work demands, for reflection, evaluation, feedback and purposeful dialogue.

It gives leaders a rare breathing space, helping them be and become better leaders. Coaching also provides timely and targeted strategies for improving leaders’ less-developed sides and showing them how to use their strengths to their own advantage.

Tim Cork (@TimCork1) is the president of Straight A’s Inc., an international provider of leadership development, coaching and sales training. This column is adapted from his book G3: The Gift of You, Leadership and Netgiving.

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