Wednesday, October 05, 2005

What CEOs Could Learn from Teachers

Business leaders could learn a lot from educators about the art of communication.

How do Children Learn? The Same As Adults.

Most people recognize a great teacher, even if it's hard to explain why. We may not have the words because we think of learning as an intellectual exercise.

But it's our gut, not our abstract principles, that recognizes greatness.

We recognize these Great Ones through their engagement and treatment of us as partners in a dialogue. They speak and listen to us individually, even in a packed room. They adjust their content and pace according to the way we listen.

Great teachers foster discussion by considering our comments -- by learning how we think. They encourage us to make meaningful connections between what matters to us and school. They challenge themselves to contemplate the points we're making and come up with provocative questions that keep us thinking.

Strong educators work from the assumption that there's always something to learn on both sides of the dialogue. They keep an open mind to our point of view and encourage us to do the same for theirs. They give us astute feedback and challenge us to argue. They consider not only the raw information but also the context, source, and impulse from which it comes.

Most of all, great teachers make us want to learn. Their genuine engagement in our experience inspires us. Their passion is contagious.

A Model for Corporate Internal Communications

What if businesses shaped their internal communications around the model of successful learning in schools?

If each side believed the other was listening, the results could be much more useful than the usual prepared speeches or training courses. What better way to derive insights that are applicable exactly to your particular business at this particular moment?

The benefits would be long-term and worth considering. Wouldn't it be cost-saving to design a development program that incites its participants to dig deeper after the a training courses are done? Isn't it more likely for businesses to retain employees if they sparked an interest in learning?

What if executives everywhere hired and reviewed managers, at least in part, on their ability to do exactly that?

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