They are called “Teachable Moments” and we assume that we are the “teacher” in those moments. But, have you ever considered that you might be the one in need of a little teaching?
What exactly is a Teachable Moment?
According to Beth Lewis, “a teachable moment is an unplanned opportunity that arises in the classroom where a teacher has an ideal chance to offer insight to his or her students. A teachable moment is not something that you can plan for; rather, it is a fleeting opportunity that must be sensed and seized by the teacher.”
Did you notice the emphasis on the teacher? In most scenarios, the teacher is the leader. However, in all of my research, I found very little information about the importance of the moment from the student’s perspective. In fact, it was as though the students just stumbled into the moment and thank goodness the teacher was there to save them.
But what if it is the leader that has a teachable moment? Are you, as a leader, teachable? Do you have a humble and open spirit to what others may have to say to you? Are there people in your life who can speak truth, hard truth at times, into your life?
What are the teachable moments for a leader?
It is a teachable moment when your public persona and your private persona are dramatically different. If there is a huge disparity between the leader they see in public and the leader behind closed doors, then that is a teachable moment for you and someone in your inner circle must step up and “teach” in that moment.
It is a teachable moment when it is an “A” game moment and you haven’t brought your “A” game. What happened and why weren’t you ready? Is it lack of learning? Is it lack of practice? It is carelessness or just going through the motions? Who do you trust to sometimes stand off in the distance and observe your actions and give you feedback? If you have someone like that to provide feedback, then you will have some teachable moments.
It is a teachable moment when opportunities are seen by everyone else but you. Do you have blind spots? Of course. We all do. But, are there opportunities all around you and your team and your followers want to capture them and you either don’t see them or don’t see the value in them? When that happens, perhaps we have bigger blind spots than we thought otherwise.
It is a teachable moment when the organization we lead is on an extended downward trend. Often, we, as leaders, are the last to spot the downward trend. And it often takes even longer for us to accept the reality that our organization is shrinking under our leadership. This is a situation where data can be the teacher. As leaders, we need to know the overall performance and trends of our organization. You cannot fix what you cannot measure.
Are You Truly Teachable?
Are you truly teachable? Can you be confronted without bristling or without making excuses for yourself? Or, do you avoid confrontation at all costs? Do you ask questions when you’re with others, or are you quick to tell everyone your opinion on the topic at hand? Are you reading books that facilitate your ongoing maturity and influence as a leader? What was the last leadership book you read or leadership seminar that you attended? Do you have a mentor? Do you have a coach?