Keeper Trait #14 – Teach-able

showing someone howWhat is the purpose in employing associates? They are brought on board to:

Extend your reach,

Multiply your effectiveness,

Divide your work.

The principle of multiplication does not end at the first level, or perhaps I should say it needn’t end at the first level. Almost certainly some participation will be required on your part whenever you bring in another first level employee. But if your company or organization is going to grow so that your capacity to focus on what are your most critically important tasks and objectives.

So, you train and teach, but you need others who can train and teach too. Permit me to borrow a leadership principle from the New Testament that is totally non-religious in its universal application.

An apostle in the world of the early days of Christianity was a man who served as a church planter, a person who starts several enterprises in different locations. As head of those enterprises, he installs a leadership team headed by a local church pastor. Once such local leader was a young man named Timothy.

As is to be expected, the local enterprise headed by Timothy began to prosper and grow. Timothy began to struggle under the load of work that fell upon him. Paul, the apostle, knew how to handle the load and passed on the benefit of his experience.

So, Paul wrote a letter to young Timothy and said, “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.”

The principle of reproduction is born. Your experience, knowledge, insight, skills, and the little tricks of the trade you’ve discovered have value. You can pass them on to your subordinates and associates with the full expectation that they will be able to teach their subordinates and associates.

That is what is meant by being teach-able and precisely why it is a keeper trait.

Now for a few tips about what it means to be able to teach others. Aside from the expected skills of being able to present information and techniques logically and safely, there are those attributes of mentoring that keep responsibility located upon the right people. HINT: It does you no good if the responsibility keeps falling back on you. It must be passed on to others. You receive accountability from them because they accept responsibility from you.

I recently became a volunteer counselor with SCORE – Service Corps Of Retired Executives. If you’re not familiar with that organization, they are affiliated with the Small Business Administration and assist aspiring and veteran business people with their businesses. Check them out at www.score.org

As part of their training, they have defined their mentoring methodology in an acronym – SLATE

Here is their mentoring methodology:

S – Stop and Suspend Judgment. Do not be hasty to sum up someone based on first impressions. There are many reasons why someone makes a bad impression. Look beyond them.

L – Listen and Learn. Talk later, hear first. Discover what is the problem, the challenge, the situation.

A – Assess and Analyze. Use your skills of evaluation to determine what is going on, what dynamics are at play, and then decide what needs to be done next.

T – Test Ideas and Teach With Tools. When I was a novice sales specialist at Lowes I encountered a problem with damaged merchandise and did not know what to do. When the area manager came by the department, I asked him. He asked a few questions then asked me what I thought should be done. It turns out my proposed solution was the correct one. The advantage of more people is more viewpoints. More people offer more options. Suggest ideas, use whatever tools may be necessary – charts, diagrams, tutorials, whatever!

E – Expectation Setting and Encouraging the Dream. Leaders are always developing and releasing more leadership at many levels. Use your role as teacher to keep expectations within reason and encourage others to pursue their dreams too. Never forget that we are all wired to receive signals from WII-FM – What’s In It For Me?

We are near the end of this series, just two more traits to go – Initiative  and Grace. See you later this week.

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