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Becoming a Holistic Leader: Teaching

May 4, 2011


Today, I’m sharing highlights from the chapter of my ebook (2nd edition) that looks at the Teaching element of Holistic Leadership. Be sure to download the ebook, which is of course FREE. And share a comment….Jim

A lot has been written on the need for leaders to be coaches and mentors. This is important to their effectiveness. But Teaching, as a Holistic Leadership component, is broader, encompassing the learning-organization concept. Some writers have used the expression The Teaching Organization in place of the learning organization.

Teaching in the 21st Century becomes the responsibility of everyone in the organization. It begins from within the individual. This is the quest for personal mastery: to continually strive to improve oneself, and in turn to share with others. In essence, we become stewards for teaching, because it’s seen in the organization as highly valued and necessary to its long-term success.

Teaching, as a Holistic Leader, comprises five enabling elements:

 Reflection & Inquiry
 Openness
 Sharing
 Stewardship
 Personal Mastery

To be a teacher means being open, both to self-discovery and to the views and feedback from others. Reflection and inquiry are critical if this is to occur, for without them we’re not able to slow ourselves sufficiently to explore new meanings and possibilities. Teaching is fundamental to effective formal and informal leadership.

Openness is vital to our ability to be creative and innovative. If we’re closed to ideas and suggestions from others, how will we ever take the chance to try something different or new? In a turbulent global economy, where work is being distributed around the world and as organizations look over their shoulders at new competitors, each of us needs to be open to new possibilities.

The days of hoarding information and protecting one’s organizational turf are long gone. Those who try to cling to these practices won’t last long in a globalized world. This is where Sharing comes into play. Generation Y, in contrast to Gen X and especially Baby Boomers, is much more adept at sharing information and ideas. We Boomers could learn from those much younger than us.

We live on a shrinking planet, not just in terms of the impact of communications technology but more importantly in how we interact with Mother Earth. Stewardship is becoming an increasingly important enabling element of Teaching as pressures on our planet grow. Again, Gen Y has something to teach us. This generation (born between 1980 and 1995) has a strong sense of both social and environmental justice.

Each of us is never “there.” Regardless of one’s occupation or work passion, there is always something new to learn or a way to improve our skills, behavior or how we interact with others. Personal Mastery is so important to who we are as human beings. If you take the view that every day brings new learning, possibilities and opportunities, then it’s hard not to jump out of bed every morning, eager to tackle challenges.

When I talk about Teaching one particular person comes to mind: my Jazz piano teacher, Brian. A master Jazz interpreter and creator of original music (with over a dozen CDs), Brian has played professionally for five decades. Yet he’s continually exploring new possibilities, experimenting with voicings, chords and structures. I never know what I’m going to learn during a class. It just happens naturally.

Brian’s unique teaching style, combined with his own passion for continually learning and improving his mastery of Jazz piano, has embedded in me that none of us are ever “there.”

Let’s now look at one incredible leader who’s been an inspiration to many and who exemplifies the Teaching component of Holistic Leadership….

Click here to download my new Holistic Leadership eBook, 2nd Edition


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