Not all teachers are good leaders, but all leaders are good teachers.  Not all bosses are good teachers, but all good bosses are good teachers. Teaching others is a vital part of leading them.  I struggle with this in some ways because I tend to be very impatient.  But I’m trying to improve in this area. To help both of us become better teaching-leaders, allow me to share with you what I’m learning.

Do you know the difference between EQUIPPING and DEVELOPING? I am greatly indebted to John Maxwell for teaching me this important distinction.

What is equipping?

Equipping is teaching someone how to do a job or learn a new skill.

When a teacher helps a student learn the skill of typing proficiently, they are equipping them.  When a boss teaches a new employee how to use the Customer Relationship Management software they’ll be using in the office as part of their job, that’s equipping.  When a parent teaches his/her child how to tie their shoes or ride a bike, that’s equipping.  In the business world, equipping most often takes the form of training programs and skills classes offered to help employees improve their work performance.  That’s equipping. Developing people is different.

What is developing?

Developing is helping someone become a better person.  

When a wife helps her husband learn to be more patient with the kids, she’s developing him (Guys, isn’t that why they married us in the first place…not to change us but to help us…uhm, develop:).  When a parent helps his/her child acquire self-discipline, they are developing them to become a better human being.

Both equipping and developing are primary responsibilities of leadership. It’s not just our job to make sure they do their job, it’s our job to make sure they know how to do their job.  Actually, that’s probably more a manager’s job.  Leaders, it’s our job to INSPIRE them to do a better job!  Distinctions, distinctions.

So, how do you as a leader both EQUIP and DEVELOP your people?  I use 2 processes that I’ve formed into acrostics for easy memorization.  The first one I’ll share with you right now.  The second one I’ll share in my next blog post.

If my goal is to teach someone how to do a specific job or to learn a skill then I use the E.Q.U.I.P. Process.  It’s a tool I developed to help me smoothly transition through the phases of teaching and equipping.  It’s comprised of 5 easy steps.  Let me give you an example.  Let’s take learning to properly greet someone by shaking their hand, a practice every successful person needs to be good at to advance in their career; and more bosses wish some of their more clumsy employees knew how to do better. (Yes, more folks than you think have trouble with the basics such as shaking hands and saying hello).  Even grown ups:)



First, I explain it.  Explanation is the #1 step.  Explain what? I explain to my pupil what a proper greeting looks, sounds and feels like.  I may even demonstrate for them.  I talk through it with them in detail, outlining the different parts of person-to-person interaction, how it works, what to watch out for and what to remember. We may even so some role play, with me playing the role of the guest who needs to be greeted and they as the host who is greeting the other person.  Explanation.  I explain it. The basic concept. In detail.  Until they understand.  Then, I…


Secondly, I ask them questions about it; or I encourage them to ask me questions about what I’ve explained to them so far.  I want the persno I’m equipping to engage with me (mind, emotions & will) using his/her own questions.  This shows me they are “into it” and actually learning.  I also want my student to believe in the methods I’m teaching them for how to properly greet someone.  Since there is more than one way to greet a person, as their leader, I’ve chosen this one to teach them because I think it’s best for our context.  I want them to buy in to that.  They won’t, however, unless they question it, first. Challenge it.  Poke holes in it and/or make sure they clearly understand the different aspects of it.  A confused mind is a closed mind!  QUESTION IT!  Moving on, I have them…


Thirdly, I now have them USE IT THEMSELVES.  I say something like this to them, “Okay, now I’ve explained to you how to do it, I’ve shown you how by demonstrating myself, we’re learning. Now it’s your turn.  I’ll watch while you do what I’ve just shown you. (Caveat: I believe the deepest and most lasting learning takes place exponentially faster when we can actually “apply what we’re learning through practical actions in a relevant situation in the teachable moment”).  Learning by doing! So, I have them actually go out and greet a stranger while I watch them.  I’ve done it.  Now they do it.  I critique and observe their technique.  I may simply take “mental notes” or I might actually jot down some thoughts on my iPAD or a piece of paper. Either way I record mentally or materially some coaching points to share with them.  At this point, taking them aside, together we…


Fourthly, after they USE IT, together me and my student INSPECT IT. We do Monday Morning Quarterbacking by reviewing how their experience went.  We critique it and I do coaching as needed.  I offer feedback to help them “improve something here or tweak something there”.  They offer feedback, in return, on how they’re processing my coaching.  I love this part!  The whole exchange between equipper and learner becomes a dynamic learning process that results in the learner acquiring new skills and the teacher gaining needed experience.  Unfortunately, the new skill or task they’re learning has not become an ingrained habit, yet!  That’s where the next and final step helps.  Since repetition is the mother of all learning (tweet that), I have them now go out and…


Finally, I release them to PRACTICE IT!  You’ve heard, “Practice makes perfect.”  That’s NOT entirely true!  Actually, practice makes permanent! Only perfect practice makes perfect.  Imperfect practice only serves to teach someone how to perform  imperfectly. You’ve got to make sure as a leader that they’re not “practicing the wrong techniques”.  This is where the coaching that’s taken place must be applied and taken seriously by the person you’re equipping. Your student needs to make the adjustments you’ve suggested.  You’ve pointed out some things.  They need to try them.  or stop doing them.  Whatever your advice, they need to do it. This is where the serious-minded basketball player goes out and shoots 5oo free throws to practice his skill.  This is when the aspiring public speaker finds a private place in front of a mirror and practices their presentation skills for several hours a day.  This is when the young musician locks themselves in their room and runs through the song they’re learning over and over again. Practice, practice, practice!  Unfortunately there’s no getting around this step.  Improvement happens over time, not overnight!(tweet that)

This is a fun, easy way I teach any skill or task to a person.  I think you’ll find you can use it to teach just about anything to almost anyone.  During my next blog entry I’ll outline the process I use to develop someone, that is, help them become a better person.  HINT: It’s an acrostic using the word M.E.N.T.O.R.  Can you figure it out?

What process do you currently use as a leader to teach yourself or others new skills or tasks?