Are You Teachable?

humility2The second question in this ongoing series focuses on a leader’s teachability. In other words, their ability and willingness to learn new things, to be taught.

Why is teachability important for a leader? John Wooden said it best, “If I am through learning, I am through.” The point is, you can always learn, grow, and develop as a leader. It is never too late. You never have it all figured out. When you think you do, that’s when your ego has gotten the best of you.

Great leaders inspire others to learn because they themselves have a constant desire for more knowledge. They are a sponge for new ideas and perspectives. Followers will see the example that teachable leaders set for them, and it will challenge and encourage them to be lifelong learners themselves.

Conversely, if you as a leader are not taking intentional steps to expand your knowledge and learn, what does that attitude communicate to your followers? It says that learning is not important to you. So if it’s not important to you, why should it be important to them?

The good news is that it’s never too late to learn and become a teachable leader. The bad news is that if you are not currently teachable, you will need to work hard to change your attitude toward learning. In order to make that change, look to some other leaders who are setting an example of teachability.

What are the characteristics of a leader who is teachable?

  • Self-awareness. They realize that they do not have everything figured out, and they can always get better. Bill Hybels said, “Everyone wins when a leader gets better.” Teachable leaders are aware of this and take steps to improve every day!
  • Humility. They are open to learning new things, and they do not allow ego to cloud their thinking. Status is not important to a teachable leader, but influence is. They learn because they want to positively impact people and organizations.
  • Lifelong learner. They consistently look for opportunities to grow and develop their leadership knowledge and skills. This could be accomplished through formal education, workshops, seminars, or mentoring. No matter the outlet for learning, it’s all rooted in a mindset of constant improvement and growth.
  • Reader. They are always reading things that will make them better as a leader and as a person. They fill their minds will positive, challenging, and thought-provoking material that enhances their ability to lead more effectively.

There are others that could be added to this list, but these stand out to me as the key qualities of teachable leaders. Emulate these and you will be on the right track toward becoming a more teachable leader who inspires others to be teachable.

Quotes on Teachability

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” — John Wooden

“As long as you’re green, you’re growing. As soon as you’re ripe, you start to rot.” — Ray Kroc

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” — John F. Kennedy

“The most important thing about education is appetite.” — Winston Churchill

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” — Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

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