It was a distinct honor to recently speak, and lead a discussion for the Notre Dame Club of Dallas, TX on the topic of Leadership Excellence. These successful men and women, still very much engaged with and supportive of The Fighting Irish from Notre Dame, continue to live the vision, mission and values of their Alma Mater, The University of Notre Dame.
During the discussion, we talked about one of the most effective ways to increase personal, professional and organizational leadership excellence. It sounds so logical to take the time and make the effort, yet so few people, including supervisors, managers, directors, VPs, and even more ‘senior executives’ take the time and make the effort to teach leadership.
We discussed the medical school and medical residency model of learning and becoming more proficient. Simply stated, that model is to “see one… do one… teach one.” Virtually all recent medical school graduates in the United States do a 3 to 5 year residency at a “teaching hospital” or in some other formal, accredited teaching program. These recent medical school graduates, now in their 3 to 5 year residencies, are intentionally confronted with hundreds; yes thousands of various medical conditions, diseases, and treatment protocols.
First they “see one.” Actually, in many cases, they may see hundreds or even thousands of the same conditions over the period of their residency. First they see the medical conditions, diseases, treatment protocols, and all kinds of other relevant information.
Next, these medical residents “do one.” They are expected to begin performing appropriate procedures and doing the mental and physical work of treating patients under the supervision of more senior residents, attending physicians and faculty.
Finally, these medical residents “teach one” usually to newer residents who are learning from more senior residents. Again, over the time of their residency, the medical residents may teach the same information, expertise and treatment protocols to many other doctors and other clinicians. Teaching deepens their learning, understanding, retention and proficiency.
In my opinion (and obviously in the collective opinion of the medical profession… actions speaks louder than words), there is no better way to learn, to grow, to develop, to extend, to expand, to improve, to become more effective, to pursue excellence than “to do” and “to teach.”
My personal experience and life journey confirms this conclusion in spades! Teaching at four different universities… teaching and mentoring while a hospital CEO… teaching while leading the Education and Networking initiatives at VHA… teaching as I currently write and speak… has resulted in the greatest collective learning experiences of my life.
If you want to become a better leader, a more effective leader, a great leader, a leader who consistently pursues and practices leadership excellence… my advice is to teach leadership! There are a million opportunities all around you. Our world, our society, your industry, your profession, the companies and people you work with, the various local, regional and national communities in which you are engaged… each and every one are seeking leaders who pursue excellence! Each and every one of them are also seeking leaders who will teach leadership!
The best teachers learn far more than their students… and the opportunities are literally limitless!
“See one…. do one… teach one.” “See many… do many… and by all means… teach many!” Teaching leadership will positively impact your life… in a million different ways. The world desperately needs far more great teachers, including teachers who ‘walk the talk’… teachers who teach and model leadership excellence!