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July 11, 2011

Staff Picks: To Lead is to Teach

By: Sally Haldorson @ 2:46 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Back in January, we were sent a manuscript for a new book in the Notes On Series created by Russell Reich. Jack wrote a JCS on the first book in the series, Notes on Directing, and has been enthusiastically following Reich and his impressive accomplishments ever since. When Jack received this new manuscript for Notes on Teaching, written by Shellee Hendricks and Reich, he forwarded it on to me. He knew I'd be interested since I once, many years ago, took on the odd teaching job, but even more so because my husband is a teacher. I've had many conversations with my husband over the years about what makes a good teacher, how, in the face of insurmountable odds, he can improve his connection to students, his pass/fail rate, his test scores...and all the other big questions he asks himself about a job that is always demanding his best. I am really excited to bring him home a copy of this book. But more so, I hope that, especially in the face of the immense criticism teachers have been getting as public employees in this state, and scrutiny they are under in this country, now is the time to rally around teachers, to help them succeed in their never-ending quest to reach each student in some small or big way. Notes on Teaching can do just that.

So why bring attention to Notes on Teaching on a business book blog? Perhaps Jack's blurb from the back of the book says it best: "Notes on Teaching, with it's comprehensive collection of pithy and perspective-altering advice, is the perfect reminder to leaders that to teach is to lead and to lead is to teach." Below are some excerpted quotes from the book that speak to just how elemental teaching is for a business. If you are still wondering about the relevancy of this book to you, just replace teacher with leader, students with employees, class with office meeting, learning with working.

7. You're the leader, but you're not alone. The students will want to contribute. Let them.

10. Learning should be tough, challenging, and ... enjoyable. So should you.

18. Prepare to be unprepared....Anything can happen. Anything will happen. A question, quip, interruption, or interaction can blow your carefully laid plans in an instant and take the class in a new, unexpected direction. There can be excitement in that, or disruption.

35. Champion failure. Failure is not a signal to give up or a cause for dejection or humiliation. It's a healthy sign of working at the frontier of one's ability or understanding.

44. Disagree without being disagreeable. Find the virtue in another's contribution before you find the vice. Show you understand her perspective before offering your own.

83. Never assign busywork. Work for the sake of work insults intelligence....

116. Call attention to their strengths. Don't assume students are aware of their own talents or how they might be put to good use.

117. Don't fix the problem. When you fill the hero role, they can't. It might enhance your sense of importance, but only at the students' expense. Use questions to help them find their own solutions or let them work it out on their own.

172. Be an eternal student. Take a class. Take two. Remember what it's like to face your own ignorance. Notice when feedback feels like judgment, and when like helpful support. Rediscover anxiety and exhilaration.

About Sally Haldorson


Sally Haldorson's job as 800-CEO-READ’s General Manager is to make 800-CEO-READ a great place to work for our employees, and a consistently high-performing customer service organization for our clients, authors, and our partners in the publishing industry. In addition to her General Manager duties ensuring collaboration, integration, and quality, she reads, writes, reviews, curates, and edits for the company. Helping craft The 100 Best Business Books of All Time used parts of both skill sets. Outside of work, she is most likely to be found hitting a tennis ball around or hanging out with her boys (husband, child, dog) at home.