3 min read

Do you think leadership involves being a good teacher? How can a leader get others to see a new vision without teaching them about that vision? How can a leader solve organizational problems without inquiring about symptoms, causes, and underlying systems? How can a leader understand people without questioning their underlying assumptions and their own?

So among all the skills of a good teacher, which ones do you think are the most important or the most effective? What makes you think that? What experiences have you had in the area of teaching or learning that leads you to that conclusion?

Who are the great teachers of history? What did they have in common? Were they the types who simply dictate commands or pour out information to their students or followers? Or did they use other strategies?

To what extent does it depend on the teacher’s concept of learning? If the leader-teacher thinks learning is about storing a mass of information in one’s brain, then how would such an assumption influence that leader’s teaching strategy?

What if the leader-teacher thought of learning as what happens when a person has gone through the experience of mentally wrestling with ideas they care about and come to their own conclusions? If the leader-teacher thought of learning in this way, how would such an assumption affect their approach to teaching? What kinds of teaching methods would they use?

Would they see themselves as distributors of wisdom, a walking library? Or would they see themselves as guides of a process, the process of learning?

To take that approach, what kinds of attitudes would such a leader-teacher need? What threats might a narcissistic leader feel by this approach? Or a leader who sees leadership as a means of acquiring fame or notoriety?

What would be the favorite tool in their teaching toolbox of the leader-teacher who understands their role as a guide to the learning process, a learning process manager?

Would it not be the question?

Would not their teaching be filled with questions? Questions that seek to uncover the hidden causes of problems, questions that confront us with our own inconsistencies, questions that incite creativity, questions that direct our minds to the future, or simply questions that show they care?

Was this not a signal characteristic of the greatest leader-teacher of all time: Jesus Christ?

  • If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? (Matthew 5:46)
  • Who among you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 5:27)
  • Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3)
  • Which is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or “Get up and walk?” (Matthew 9:5).
  • Why do you call me good? (Mark 10:18)
  • Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? (Luke 10:4).
  • Who’s face and name are stamped on the coin? (Luke 20:24)

Would we not all be more effective at influencing others if we would incorporate more questions and fewer declarations in our interaction with others?
What about you? Do you see yourself as a depository of knowledge? Or as a catalyst of the learning process?


Photo: Israel Kirzner Lecture by Felix Ling, July 28, 2006. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Portrait of Dr. Waddell

Dr. Greg Waddell is passionate about helping church leaders equip their people for ministry. He believes there is wild potential in every believer that begs to be released. He can help you develop and implement practical strategies for increasing the ministry capacity of your congregation.