Monday, October 13, 2008

The essence of leading is not commanding, but teaching

Noel Tichy (pictured here), author of the book "Judgment" that I posted about yesterday, is a management professor at the University of Michigan.

He has a doctorate in social psychology and he's written and talked a lot about the importance of having "a teachable point of view" or TPOV, which has real relevance to coaches.

According to Tichy, a TPOV is essentially your "points of view," experience, and knowledge that a leader brings to life "so that followers can and will act on them. This means that they must make them understood not just rationally, but emotionally. And they do this by weaving them into personal stories. The stories and points of view are intertwined."

Here's another way Tichy has described the TPOV concept:

"Imagine you’re a tennis coach. Fifty people show up at your five-day tennis camp. You better have a teachable point of view on tennis. You’ve got to have more than a set of rules about what your students should do on the court: You have to have a set of ideas about how you teach the backhand, the forehand, the serve, the rules of tennis.

If you’re a good coach, there’s an intellectual framing; you have a set of values, because values support the ideas. If ideas are all I have, I can hand out a brochure to these 50 people and say, 'Read it.'

I ain’t going to get you to sweat eight hours a day if I don’t have a teachable point of view about emotional energy. I’ve got to get you excited about those ideas and values. And then if I’m a good coach, I have to make the yes/no decision about people after I’ve coached them, about who’s on the team and off the team.

That’s a teachable point of view."

As Tichy wrote in another one of his books:

"The essence of leading is not commanding, but teaching. True learning takes place only when the leader/teacher invests the time and emotional energy to engage those around him or her in a dialogue that produces mutual understanding."

All of us remember our best teachers. They're the ones who not only "knew their stuff," but were genuinely passionate about their subject -- whether it was math or accounting or English or basketball -- and found innovative ways to engage their students and convey concepts.

In fact, they were so engaging that, even if you weren't particularly interested in the subject, you looked forward to attending their class. In the end, you learned quite a bit about it and, at the end of the semester, left with an appreciation for it.