The best leaders invest in their people. They don't gab at their team as preachers – they guide them as teachers. They lead by example and create a learning environment for those who strive to grow in their roles.
But how do you know if you're teaching or preaching?
Not everyone is a natural-born teacher, just as not everyone is a natural-born leader. But everyone has the opportunity to learn. People learn to lead. People learn to teach. It starts with the right mindset.
Here are 5 ways to ensure that you teach (not preach) as a leader:
1) Don't pontificate. Answers may come easily to you, but no one loves a know-it-all. Instead of imploring your strong opinions, ask questions, and see what your team comes up with. You never know what you might learn from them.
2) Bring out the best in your people. Provide positive feedback and feedforward, and make sure your team feels comfortable asking questions. Let them know that ‘there are no bad questions.' Create a trusting environment and they will open up.
3) Be a good role model. You can't just tell your team to jump in, you have to roll up your sleeves and show them how it's done. Showing that you are invested in, and passionate about your job, will result in your team following suit.
4) Connect the dots. Don't just tell your team how to complete a task, explain to them why the task is important – how it fits into the bigger picture. Helping them to understand the process is much more valuable than focusing only on the end results.
5) Encourage conversations. There isn't always one answer. Engaging in conversations with your team members is a great way to encourage conflict resolution skills and shared learning. Don't just talk, talk it through as a team.
I've created a checklist to keep your leadership style on point – download it below.
Successful leaders know that people want to be recognized as valuable contributors, not as direct reports who do nothing more than follow their leader.
Here's the trap: It can be easy to tell them what to do and the best way to do it – especially as many of those skills come easily to you as an expert in your field. But if you tell them how to do things, they won't learn how to think strategically, create and present their own ideas, or resolve issues – key elements to creating a healthy learning environment.
Are you teaching your people to become better leaders? Grab your checklist from the Coaching For Female Leaders App and find out.