News & Insight
September 2011

Those Who Can't Do It All, Teach

Paul J. Forti, Ph.D.

It is a widely held belief that a great business leader must be a superhuman individual who has a routine involving waking up every day at 4:30 AM, working out, being in the office no later than 7 AM, attending numerous meetings and job sites throughout the day, and returning home around 11 PM. However, the number of hours spent at work does not define the success or the greatness of any leader.

Being a great leader is not a function of HOW much time is spent at work, but HOW the time at work is spent. According to research by the Small Business Association, of the 24 million small businesses in the United States, 30% stay in business after the owner/CEO dies, and of these only 15% stay in business for at least three generations. Does this mean that terrible leaders run 85% of all small businesses? No. What it probably does mean is that these leaders were so busy managing their businesses that they forgot to exercise one of the most important muscles that all great leaders have: the power of teaching.

Regardless of how big or small a business is, one of the most important traits a great leader can have is that of being an excellent teacher. Sometimes those in leadership positions have the mindset “nobody can do this as well as I can", which leads these individuals to spend long workdays micromanaging. How about challenging this idea with the following? A great leader will make use of his/her team by taking the time to teach teammates how to run the business successfully. Yet a very common response by current leaders to this statement is that they do not have the time to teach their teammates how to successfully run the business. It may take some time in the short-run to adopt and implement this idea, but think of its long-term effects. By teaching others you:

  1. Ensure that the business can and will continue after you leave.
  2. Empower your team members and employees, leaving them committed towards accomplishing the company's goals.
  3. Empower team members and employees to begin thinking outside of the box instead of looking at their job as a task to cross off their To Do list. They now begin to think in terms of, "How can we do this better and more efficiently? How can I contribute to the success of the company?"
  4. Give yourself more time to be the creative visionary for the future. This also allows you to implement the new ideas and goals that in the past were only great ideas that you dreamed about with while micromanaging.

When a leader adopts a teaching style, she enhances her ability to lead exponentially. And when others witness the leader’s commitment to teaching others, they also become devoted to teaching, resulting in a positive cascade throughout the organization.

WJM Faculty Member Dr. Paul Forti has over 30 years of business experience as a senior executive and executive coach. In addition to holding various line and corporate leadership positions, Dr. Forti is a consulting psychologist, featured speaker and recognized industry leader for his work in leadership development, team building, change management and changing difficult personalities into effective and respected leaders.

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