Fast track to leadership development … Get leaders to teach

Nov 2009
Issue 02


Back in 2004, when Ed Betof, now at Wharton, was CLO for Becton Dickinson (BD), a medical tech company, he reported the challenge, “We needed to be faster, smarter, and more flexible. The ability of everyone to continuously learn had become a foundational skill for achieving our future goals.” Facing intense market pressures, they especially needed more effective leadership. And they got it … in an ingenious way.

Among a number of new strategies, Ed set in motion a “leaders as teachers” ini­tiative where BD leaders would be positioned as instructors in their live learning programs. The success extended well beyond the classroom. It set up a culture of people passing on their learning to others, and leaders now think of them­selves “as leader-coaches and are coaching and teaching everyday.” In effect, “leaders as teachers” discreetly became a best-in-class leadership development program. “When leaders prepare to teach, an increased self-awareness takes place. Self-awareness is the basis of self-improvement.”

Ed has since developed an excellent implementation guide, released in April, Leaders as Teachers: Unlock the Teaching Potential of Your Company’s Best and Brightest. It is available in hardcopy and Kindle format.

Ed is also featured in an interview in the August issue of T+D, where he ad­dresses the concepts of learning agility, informal learning, and leading and coaching. On the subject of learning agility, he notes, “There’s a growing body of evidence that learning agility is one of the top predictors of leadership potential.”

When leaders master the art of teaching,

they’ve laid a powerful foundation for an enduring great company.

– Jim Collins, Good to Great