I noticed something interesting about executive effectiveness while reading an article in The Atlantic Monthly titled, What Makes a Great Teacher? The researchers identified specific traits of the most effective teachers, traits that I immediately recognized as characteristic of exceptional business leaders. Try reading the following excerpt from the article while substituting “manager” for “teacher” and “employees” for “students.”
First, great teachers tended to set big goals for their students. They were also perpetually looking for ways to improve their effectiveness. For example, when Farr called up teachers who were making remarkable gains and asked to visit their classrooms, he noticed he’d get a similar response from all of them: “They’d say, ‘You’re welcome to come, but I have to warn you—I am in the middle of just blowing up my classroom structure and changing my reading workshop because I think it’s not working as well as it could.’ When you hear that over and over, and you don’t hear that from other teachers, you start to form a hypothesis.” Great teachers, he concluded, constantly reevaluate what they are doing.
More text below the video…
Superstar teachers had four other tendencies in common: they avidly recruited students and their families into the process; they maintained focus, ensuring that everything they did contributed to student learning; they planned exhaustively and purposefully—for the next day or the year ahead—by working backward from the desired outcome; and they worked relentlessly, refusing to surrender to the combined menaces of poverty, bureaucracy, and budgetary shortfalls.
Mr. Taylor laments the lack of parental involvement. “On back-to-school night, if you have 28 or 30 kids in your class, you’re lucky to see six or seven parents,” he says. But when I ask him how that affects his teaching, he says, “Actually, it doesn’t. I make it my business to call the parents—and not just for bad things.” The first week of class, Mr. Taylor calls all his students’ parents and gives them his cell-phone number.
Other teachers I interviewed spent most of our time complaining.
Aren’t these familiar leadership qualities?
- High Standards
- Big Goals–Set by working “backwards” from the future
- Continual Improvement: Kaizen from The Toyota Way
- Inclusion of All Stakeholders
- Focused Effort
- Planning and Tracking
- Relentless Persistence
- Realistic Viewpoint without Complaint
It was no surprise at all to learn that the book they’re writing about finding, training, and nurturing highly effective teachers is titled, Teaching As Leadership.