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Business Leadership: A Culture of Teaching & Learning


A monthly leadership blog focused on business leadership, courtesy of and authored by Phil Henderson.

Are you comfortable teaching? Not telling, but actually teaching. You know, imparting wisdom, educating, and helping others learn and improve. Telling isn’t empowering but teaching sure is, especially when it’s done in a sincere manner where the student feels a connection to the teacher.

Are you comfortable being the student? Not sitting in a classroom learning from an instructor, being taught something by your supervisor, or reading from a book, but learning from your teammates and team members – from your peers and direct reports.

The teacher-student / student-teacher relationship creates a higher purpose. This is a shared purpose and a genuine feeling of mutual accountability for learning between teacher and student and reminds me of a thought-provoking quote:

“There must be a driving spirit behind our work beyond making a profit or we have no business leading people.”

It’s essential that all business leadership roles and employees feel comfortable being both teacher and student to venture outside one’s comfort zone. ‘Being’ and ‘doing’ differently as a leader starts with a willingness to be vulnerable. Admit, as leaders, that we don’t know everything.

‘Leaders knowing everything’ is a common dysfunctional paradigm that limits leaders and employees from realizing their fullest potential and groups of people achieving a common goal. Invulnerability, an unwillingness to admit a shortcoming, lack of knowledge, or weakness, creates an absence of trust (Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team), and, per John Maxwell, “Trust is the foundation of leadership.”

Create a culture that values learning at, and from, all levels of the organization. Demonstrate a willingness to learn from others and require others to learn from one another. Highly respected leaders show vulnerability through openly admitting a lack of knowledge and shortcomings. They welcome training and development (teaching) from anyone with a higher competency level.

Leaders are at their best when they’re getting the best out of others, and getting the best out of others requires leaders to be both ‘teacher’ and ‘student.’

organization; leadership; Phil HendersonPhil Henderson is a former Regional VP of Manufacturing Operations at Harland Clarke Holdings. He is as a Designer of Self-Directed, Team-Based Work Systems in manufacturing environments over the course of 26 years. He served 8 years as an Air Traffic Controller and Officer in the US Army, and with distinction as a Captain in the First Gulf War. He currently provides leadership development and self-directed work team design assistance to Trenton Forging. For inquiries, Phil may be reached at (210) 316-3212 or at

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