Here is how one newspaper began their report of John Woodens recent death. They weren’t even born when revered UCLA basketball coach John Wooden had his glory days and string of national championships. Yet hundreds of students still gathered on campus in his honor and mourned his death Friday night.
As word of Wooden’s passing spread, more than 500 students joined a somber, candlelit remembrance of the legendary coach across from the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, where he had died minutes before at the age of 99.
John Wooden has been a hero of mine for over forty years. He was a quintessential leader teacher
one of the very, very best. He was also a coach and mentor of enormous stature and accomplishment. John Wooden also cared deeply about all those for whom he had teaching, coaching and mentoring responsibility.
Yes, he was the coach who won more mens college basketball games than anyone else in NCAA history. He had a remarkable and unheard-of .804 win-lost percentage over the course of his career. His ten national basketball championships, including seven in a row beginning in 1967, are more than any other mens NCAA program. At one point, his UCLA Bruins won 88 consecutive games. He was the first person elected to the college Hall of Fame as both a player and as a coach. These accomplishments and many other records are his for all to appreciate and strive to equal, emulate or even surpass. But John Wooden was much, much, more.
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I am often asked the following question
.What is the most frequent concern you hear about starting and conducting a leaders as teachers program? The two concerns or questions I hear the most from learning, development and talent management professionals and leaders are:
- Will the approach take too much time?
- How should we start?
In a formal sense, there are five broad categories that encompass dozens of ways that leaders can teach. The five categories are:
- Identifying learning needs and learning solutions/design
- Live teaching
- Teaching through the use of media and technology
- Pre and post-program teaching and coaching to drive application and learning impact
- Recruiting, training, coaching and mentoring leader-teachers
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Over the years I have been delighted to find that if the right conditions exist, it is not nearly as hard to recruit leader-teachers as one might expect. In fact, in many organizations, there are many leaders and talented professionals who are willing to teach, coach and mentor. Too often, we simply do not know how to find them or do not create the environment in our work organizations for these individuals to self-identify and volunteer. I have heard many stories from leaders who said something like the following. I enjoy teaching and guiding the development of others, but there just are not opportunities at work so I find other places in my life to do it. For example, many leaders coach sports teams in the community, teach at a church, synagogue or mosque. Others serve as big brothers or sisters or mentor youth or adults.
I was recently reminded of the untapped leader-teacher resources in so many of our organizations. These are lost opportunities to contribute to building learning and teaching organizations. When the right conditions are present, it is not that hard to enable leaders to share their experience and knowledge with others.
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I am frequently asked to provide a list of must-does that will help learning and talent professionals to build momentum, develop organizational energy and to stay on track when implementing a leaders-as-teachers (LAT) approach. The following points are ones that I frequently discuss. They are adapted from Leaders as Teachers: Unlock the Teaching Potential of Your Companys Best and Brightest.
- First, fully align and integrate your LATs approach with your businesss and organizations key strategies and goals. Make certain that the reasons and benefits for using the leaders-as-teachers approach are clear and embraced in your organization.
- Involve your top leaders, right from the beginning. Your leaders set the tone at the top of your organization. It is best if you can involve your CEO. If that is not possible, involve other executives and leaders. Their successful involvement and support influences others in important ways and sends very clear messages about the importance of learning and talent development to them and to others.
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Uncertainty in any aspect of our lives can elicit many feelings that can greatly affect individual, team and organizational performance. Leaders in settings as diverse as business, government, not-for-profit organizations, education and the military can learn many lessons from the actions of great leaders from ancient and modern history. Lets take four leaders from modern history as examples and look at vital lessons they taught, how they taught these lessons and the possible implications for transferring these insights into our own leadership and work settings.
Consider the following:
- What lessons did these leaders teach as they faced uncertainty?
- How did they teach these lessons
- Based on your answers to these two questions, what application do you see for leaders to teach in your organization?
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