It is imperative that teachers see themselves as leaders in this day and age as we continue to experience historical amnesia, a retreat from democracy and experience greater violence, cultural imperialism, marginalization and powerlessness in our stratified country. What can be learned from our political and business leaders from that of a teacher?
The similarities between teachers and leaders may not be glaringly apparent yet both should have paralleling characteristics. One role is primarily perceived as sharing knowledge and enlightening a group of individuals while the other takes on decision-making roles with the intent to direct the group. Does a teacher need to be a leader or does a leader need to be a teacher? I would contend that if you strip away societal perception, A good teacher is a leader and a good leader is a teacher.
One characteristic of a teacher who accepts a leadership role within an organization is that of creating a sense of company culture. The great teaching leaders have the ability to create a positive classroom culture that could easily translate into a business environment. Teachers must create structures, norms, procedures, and enjoyment within a classroom to get every single child engaged in their learning. The same is needed within a company. Teachers as leaders can motivate fellow colleagues, attract another talent, and drive the corporate community to achieve a collective mission.
Both a leader and a teacher know how to prioritize what is most important in order to achieve their end goal. A teacher must be guided by the standards of learning, and break down lessons that are in alignment with the standard/objective in order to prepare the student for a lifelong set of skills and measurable outcomes. Great teachers often find the best materials, create appropriately aligned plans and effectively communicate what they deem of utmost importance for a student’s ability to successfully navigate one’s future. As mentioned earlier, there are times when the standard curriculum must be adapted in order to address what is happening in society as a whole. This is where a teacher as a leader would suspend the lesson of the day which is required by a set pacing guide and instead prioritize what is really important, which might relate to topics such as civil rights, social injustice, economic downfall, the threat of war with North Korea, etc. Leaders in the business world often have to shift their focus and re-prioritize in order to best meet the end goal.
Teachers have the ability to tailor their communication and teaching methods to various types of learners. There is an old adage that states, “If a child can’t learn from the way I teach, then I must teach in the way the child can learn.” Every one of a teacher’s students learns differently. Business leaders often do the same. How you speak to individuals in business differs from person to person. Some people in your organization are introverted and would appreciate written directives and notes of appreciation, while some others may prefer to be invited into the office for direct in-person communication and also to receive praise in public. Whatever the situation calls for, business leaders must adapt their communication and strategies to meet the best learning modalities of each employee.
Teacher and leadership skills definitely are synonymous. Both rely on effective group communication which is key to any successful classroom or business. A teacher’s skills can positively influence a leadership role while a leadership role can also help create an effective classroom. The work of a leader and teacher is to take the best practices from each discipline and put them into practice in the classroom and business setting. Again, given the state of our society, it remains imperative that those influencing others hone their skills in order to effectively lead, communicate and influence the future.