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Be A Teacher, Not A Teller

In a recent blog of his, Terry St. Marie makes a terrific point about leadership: it’s about teaching, not telling. Anyone can bark orders or boss people around, but a true leader demonstrates, shows, and, well, leads.

Think back to some of the leaders you’ve had in your life, both good and bad. Did they teach, or did they just tell? The good ones probably took the time to show you how, and whether they knew it or not, they also followed these five rules:

1. Teach through repetition — People may remember something after you tell them once, but learning and remembering are two different things. True learning means you’ve internalized what you’ve heard– it becomes a natural part of your thought process. It takes hearing or doing something tons of times to get to this point.

2. Be consistent — Don’t send mixed messages– this creates confusion, and will eventually cause resentment towards the leader. A leader has to be someone that others can trust, and people who don’t play by their own rules or keep their stories straight can’t be easily trusted.

3. Be clear — You can’t lead if no one can understand what you say. Word things in a way that everyone can get, and avoid confusing jargon.

4. Have common sense – All this takes is forethought. If you’re leading by example (like you should be!), you want to show that you think about a situation and use common sense before dealing with it.

5. Be hands-on — Demonstrating how to do something is always better than explaining. As a leader, you have to be able to show that you can practice what you preach.

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