Teaching and Keeping the Best

By Dr. Mary Kay

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

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We have had a huge response to the article A Great Leader = A Great Teacher. Let’s expand on a leader’s role of how to be “a great teacher” and providing resources for others to find success.

Sometimes your team members need a little coaching. They need a refresher on how to perform a task or guidance on the best way to get things done efficiently. You can look at your team like we do our equipment or our products: They work great most of the time, but there are always upgrades that can help our equipment run better. And you are the one who is responsible for “installing” these upgrades.

Time for a Tune-Up

As a leader, you have to recognize when there is a need for education. For example, training, sharing information, or discussing new ideas and methods. And then, you need to implement whatever is called for.

For example:

  • Have a new project with tasks that will be unfamiliar to your employees? Allot a day for training, even bringing in outside speakers or demonstrators if necessary to get them the information they need.
  • Just hired a new employee who has great potential but rusty computer skills? Hook him or her up with the PC whiz in your division to get him or her up to speed.
  • Noticing that morale seems a little bit low? Call a huddle and talk to your team members about it. Do some team-building exercises, or relate to them some pointers from an article you recently read about how to keep each other’s spirits up when the work seems dull or difficult.

Teachers Attract the Best

Education can take a thousand different forms. It’s not always about saying, “This is how you do it,” or “Let me show you a better way.” It’s about sharing knowledge and expertise and utilizing the skills of your employees in conjunction to work more efficiently and be more productive.

If you can cultivate an environment in which employees will see you as a mentor as well as a leader, then you are going to attract the best people to work for you.

Good employees are a cornerstone of your organization. The more you show that you are committed to helping your good employees become great team members, the more likely you are to bring in people who will be enthusiastic and willing to work hard to make themselves and the business a success.

How About Under Performers?

There will be the occasional underperformer. Sometimes, employees think that they are up to the challenge, but when faced with these challenges in reality, they find that they are just not up to the task.

In cases like this, don’t worry. You just keep on coaching and encouraging your team and let these mismatched members work it out for themselves.

More often than not, they are unhappy with the job that they’re given to do, and they will leave the company and seek employment with a competitor. Then they will be in a place where they’re comfortable with their old, reactive environment in which they are not accountable for their choices.

The Payoff

Teaching your team members in any capacity is not an activity that produces results overnight. It takes time, effort, and investment. And you may not always see the fruits of your labor right away. Teaching is a skill that requires patience.

You might have to show someone a couple of times how to perform a task or hold daily huddles on topics that are pertinent to your team’s performance. For example, better production methods, new motivational techniques, or whatever they require to do their jobs better.

You may even need to set up long-term teaching goals with periodic rewards along the way for team members who meet milestones and achieve the accomplishments and challenges that you set out before them.

We’re Too Busy to Teach

An ongoing process such as employee education might be difficult for achievement-driven leaders to get a handle on. Part of being an effective leader is constantly being on the go -always on the floor, interacting with employees, and being a part of the team yourself.


When you’re so used to focusing on what you need to do to keep everything running smoothly, it can be difficult to take a step back and look at the big picture.

But if you can work this role into your leadership repertoire, you will find that the benefits and rewards will be outstanding. All of the dedication and work that you put into assisting your employees to work to their full potential will pay off in time with greatly enhanced performance on the part of your team and, thus, greatly increased profits for your company.

Stay Balanced

A leader’s job is, of course, to lead—and with that comes an aspect of teaching, coaching, and mentoring. Not just the person whom employees look to for instruction, a leader must also be a resource from which the team can gain guidance, education, and training to help them do their best. Great leaders take time to teach.


Keeping a balance between management and leadership is an important aspect of being a teacher. Leaders should always stay true to their people-focused methods and do whatever they can to help their employees become more than they think they can be.

Leaders must also know when to wear the “manager hat” and be the voice of accountability that upholds company standards and practices. As with many things in life, effective leadership is about finding a balance between the two. This balance is teaching at its best.

How Do You Teach as a Leade

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Dr. Mary Kay
Dr. Mary Kay
Dr. Mary Kay is a business leadership strategist, executive coach, trainer, author, and co-founder of the About Leaders community. She’s consulted with hundreds of companies and trained thousands of leaders. Her Ultimate Leader Success course helps managers become more confident, decisive leaders. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Kalpana Ganesh says:

    Mary Kay – I am suddenly in-charge of a whole new team and was so bogged down till I read this post… Now I know where I will invest my energy.

  • Hi Kalpana – This is so exciting! Have fun with your team and congrats!

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