…the most important job.
In 1903 George Bernard Shaw famously wrote, “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.” In 2015 this could not be further from the truth. It is clear to me that the most accomplished and important individuals we have in modern society are, at their core, teachers, whether or not that is how they refer to themselves professionally.
First, let me say that I believe teacher is among the most important occupations in our society. I can imagine no role more powerful or significant than helping our youth learn (except perhaps that of being a parent, which is also, in many respects, being a teacher).
However, what I mean here is that the job of teaching (as separate from being a teacher in title) is increasingly important in modern life. Ask any lawyer, doctor or executive what the greatest challenges are at work and you are likely to hear “attracting and retaining top talent.” This is not because there is a shortage of intelligent and capable people to fill roles. Rather, it is because not enough professionals are trained and skilled in the art of teaching. People don’t just magically become good at their job and fit into a corporate culture. People need to be mentored, coached, guided, given feedback and support to grow and thrive in any industry. Teaching is the magic sauce to attract and develop talent.
Success in any field today requires more than repetitive ‘factory line’ type activity. To succeed our work force needs to adapt, communicate, and synthesize; we need to learn and to be taught. Great employers understand this and lead with the same skills great teachers possess—a drive to listen to and connect with people, the ability to motivate others, a contagious love of learning, and a gift for helping others realize their own strengths and abilities.
Great leaders are often the head doctor in a teaching university hospital, the technology executive who takes sharp young talent under her wing, or the movie director who can elicit the best from his cast to bring a script to life. In other words, “She who can teach, succeeds.”