All managers are teachers but not all teachers are managers

All managers are teachers but not all teachers are managers.

The title is wrong.

But it shouldn’t be.

If you are a manager you will know that you have a lot of things to do and some of those things are essential and some are less essential. Or at least they seem to be.

Many managers spend their whole time keeping the wheels coming of. Every day is focused on a battle against mistakes, errors and problems that will bring down the team, department or even company.

Consequently those activities that are more effective over the long-term can often be relegated down the to-do-list. Of course the problem with that is that once you start putting something lower down the to-do-list it can become an easy habit to do so and it can end up living there.

Consequently most managers have activities that they regularly put off. Tasks that they end up doing under duress or because ‘they have to’ or not done at all! Being a teacher can be one of those.

Which leads us to two questions:

Is a manager a teacher?

And if so;

Why is it important for a manager to be a teacher?

I’d say yes to both and I base my answer to the first question on a quote from Fritz Perls, (world-renowned psychotherapist) when he defined teaching as;

To show a person that something is possible

That for me makes the case for a manager being a teacher. Fundamentally as a manager if you are not showing people that it is possible to be great at their job, happy doing it and doing it for a good purpose then you are failing as a manager.

And as to the second question of importance well a manager is the oil in the machine of business. The person responsible for ensuring that the parts work in harmony with each other and with the least wear and tear. The more those parts know they better they can function. That’s why it’s important.

Also managers who seek the respect of their workforce would do well to show their people how to better and more easily do their jobs. They should demonstrate the same level of communication, professionalism and openness that they expect. By showing the way through direct example it sets a template for people to follow.

But that is only half way to being a teacher. It’s the equivalent to a high school teacher dressing properly, turning up on time and being prepared. It’s the bare minimum that should be expected.

What then makes them a real teacher is the direct and successful transferring of knowledge to their pupils. In the same was that a real manager should take time out to improve the skills and talents of those working for them.

An example of a few of the options that a manager has are as follows

  • Incorporate a learning point into the regular team meetings
  • Plan specific training sessions which are run consistently and eventually cover every aspect of the department’s roles
  • Hold coaching sessions with individual workers to directly provide one to one guidance and development

And if looking at the bigger picture then

  • Set up knowledge sharing sessions between different departments to spread knowledge through a company and provide different views

So now that brings us to the second part of this blog’s title ~

not all teachers are managers

A manager can, for a variety of reasons, become a jack of all trades and, very much, master of none. So it holds that sometimes, depending on the depth and quality of the training that is required, that the best person to teach a topic is not the manager.

Consider who is best qualified to deliver knowledge sharing on a topic and then see if they would be willing to run, or assist you to run, the training on that topic.

Like all delegation, if you do it properly, it can be very motivational to both the person delegated to and the rest of the team.

So think outside of yourself and to the larger team when you consider who could deliver training and when you do that ignore titles in preference for experience.

 Until next time; be successful

Stephen Hart

Corporate trainer



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