What teaching teaches CEOs

Lifehacker recently published an article that particularly resonated with me: Six Things I Learned from Teaching That I Still Use in Everyday Life. The lessons I learned teaching for four years at Naval Nuclear Power School continue to help me to this day. The number one lesson that author Melanie Pinola cites is especially applicable for CEOs: Don’t Assume Another Person Understands What You’ve Said (or Did Not Say).

CEOs cannot underestimate the impact of their words on people. Employees are eager to please and will often run off to take action without ensuring they completely comprehend what their chief executive was trying to communicate. When I talk with people, I always try to make sure they really understand what I am saying. This is a valuable skill for CEOs to continually hone, especially by improving their communication skills and learning to ask the right questions.

Teaching itself is a great way to improve your skills, deepen your knowledge of a subject matter, and foster relationships with as well as learn from all kinds of people – including your employees. You never really master a subject until you are forced to explain it to a group. I’ve taught classes on technology and business to both employees as well as current and aspiring CEOs. Take advantage of opportunities to teach what you know to others both inside and outside your company.

See also the role of coach as a high-leverage CEO role.


2 thoughts on “What teaching teaches CEOs

  1. I agree. The 4 semesters I taught at the UT McComb’s School of business were such a great learning experience for me! As leaders, teachers, and managers we can’t assume that everyone hears or experiences things the same way we do. Teaching was a great way for me to observe the different ways students heard me and their peers. It gave me practice in adapting (sometimes it wasn’t possible depending on the individual) to ensure my intended message was understood and/or help them grasp a key insight from one of their fellow classmates.

    To this day it gives me much joy to hear from my former students and know that I had an impact on at least some of them in their careers.

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