Episode 81 of Landscape Digital Show reveals why business leaders are teachers at heart and how that mindset empowers their organizations.


Why Business Leaders are Teachers at Heart

Business leaders bring diverse experiences and a variety of talents to their company, but there is often one talent in particular that drives its success.

You may be good with numbers and understand how to make budgeting work. Or you may have a knack for creating workflow systems that create amazing efficiencies.

Yet it’s likely that you share an attribute with many great leaders, and that is the ability to teach your business building philosophies to others.

It’s possible to have incredibly innovative ideas or the most brilliant vision but none of it will amount to anything if you cannot teach people how to put it to good use.

When I launched my landscaping business I was able to sell my big ideas to our first customers because that’s what I had been doing for the previous ten years. Making the leap from enterprise sales and marketing to take my shot as an entrepreneur was scary and exciting, but the need to grow beyond sales and marketing to build a business helped me discover my true talent.

It was and to this day is teaching.

Make Teaching Your Superpower

Making the shift from whatever you consider being your superpower to that of a teacher of it is empowering because the act of teaching demands that you acquire a deeper understanding of it.

Starting a business or taking it to the next level requires educating and inspiring people, including partners, employees, suppliers, and customers. Depending on the relationship, you may normally think of that responsibility as training, selling or hiring, but at its core its all teaching.

Think back to your days in the classroom. What were the qualities that made certain teachers your favorites? They cared about you, were patient, forgiving, smart and probably made you smile every now and then.

Most important is that those teachers somehow inspired you to think bigger, and that’s what all of us should be doing. Bigger can be translated to business growth, greater community involvement, or more meaningful working relationships.

In other words, it can be anything you want it to be.

Teaching Adults is A Collaboration

If you have ever taken the stage before an audience and bombed you have discovered that adult learning is different from what many of us may have experienced in the classroom. In fact, I’m told that nowadays college students will walk out of a lecture if the teacher does not engage them from the start.

It turns out the key to effectively teaching any group of people is backing up whatever you are teaching with why.

This is what sparked my interest in using storytelling throughout the customer experience. Real stories are transformative because they demonstrate not just how our solutions have changed people’s lives, but also why.

It’s a fact that getting and holding the attention of an audience is challenging, but a compelling story can make that happen. This is why experienced business leaders are known to answer questions with a story.

Let’s take buyers as an example, though the same is true in hiring situations. Impactful stories are about the changes people want to make, that is, getting from here to there, from where they are to a better place.

Our goal with our landscape design process was to take buyers further than they even thought was possible. And the secret to doing so was really pretty simple – involve them in a collaborative process that gives them a feeling of being in control.

Note that I didn’t say control but the feeling of control. There’s a difference.

Teachers do this well. They guide students to learn at their own pace so they are not overwhelmed or bored stiff. Of course, before that can happen they have to first design a curriculum that adapts to the respective needs of each and every student.

Organize Your Teaching Curriculum

All business challenges can be fixed by shifting your approach to a teaching model. That may be teaching customers how to buy from you or teaching talented people why your organization is the one that will have the greatest impact on their career.

To make this happen you have to get organized by taking your current approach and examining it for improvements. This should start with listening to the audience for which it is designed. Talk to your customers, employees and business partners. You can also and should talk to complete strangers because the insights can be enlightening.

Then take what you have learned and test it. Like stand-up comedians, I’m always testing new ideas and stories with live audiences. It’s the only way to discover real improvements that will make what I’m teaching better for the next audience.

The same is true for your business.

Call to Action

The call to action for this episode is to take one of your systems, the one where you may be experiencing the most pain, and start rebuilding it into a teachable system that promises to produce bigger outcomes.

Leave a comment to let me know how this is working for you. I’d love to hear from you.