Here’s a truth I’ve come to believe: Teachability is the single greatest indicator of a person’s leadership ability.
And because of that reality, leaders have to make choices regarding who and how much people get of their time. This graphic is something I created to help me think through those decisions I have to make on a daily basis about who to invest my time in. Here’s how this breaks down:
No desire to lead, not teachable (lower left) – This person wants to show up and do things the same every time and doesn’t want to be stretched. They are sometimes faithful doers, but sometimes simply warm bodies. They may just be happy to be here. Either way, their primary need is one of inspiration. They need something to get excited about and someone to challenge them. However, given their lack of desire, unless they respond to that – they shouldn’t get much of our time. The best way to get this group moving is to turn them into learners by inspiring them.
Desire to lead, not teachable (upper left) – This person wants to do a lot. They want their voice heard. They have ideas and maybe even some ability. But because of their lack of “teachability” they shouldn’t get much of our time as leaders. They will often be the most vocal group and so this makes it difficult, but the fact is that their unwillingness to be coached and taught will forever limit their influence. And it should also limit the amount of time we spend with them. Their greatest need is a reality check. They need to know the expectation to grow and that influence comes through a humble, learning spirit. Our hope is to move them toward being a high level leader, but that depends on them.
No desire to lead, teachable (lower right) – These are some of my favorite people. They are hungry to learn and are constantly asking questions. They don’t come across as having a strong desire to lead (they may even tell you that), but the fact is that they are some of the best potential leaders out there. Leadership often finds them because of their learning attitude. All this person needs to reach their potential is a cheerleader. They need someone who will believe in them, cheer them on, stretch them, and give them an opportunity. They deserve as much of our time as we can possibly give them. With enough encouragement, I believe this person can move into the upper right quadrant and become a high level leader.
Desire to lead, teachable (upper right) – These people are the jet fuel of your organization. Because of their desire to lead and their willingness to learn the limit to their leadership is almost limitless. Their heart is with you, they are characterized by humility and gentleness, and their desire to lead will cause them to keep improving in every way. We should give this person every second that they want with us, but to be honest they won’t require as much. All they need is for us to cast the vision (give them a challenge), point them in a direction, and then get out of the way.