10 Things Business Leaders Should Learn From Educators

schools learn from businessIf you Google the words “what education can learn from” you’ll find articles ranging from “What Education Can Learn from the NFL” to “What Education Can Learn from Video Games” to “What Education Can Learn from Bernie Madoff.”

But what has struck me is what business can learn from education.

These are principles so valuable that the business world needs to take heed and learn from educators.  Below are 10 principles and lessons I believe should be incorporated in every boardroom, every office, and every MBA program.

Lesson 1 – Know what you stand for.

Educators stand for the belief that every child should have the tools to succeed – this applies to everything from basic literacy to graduation from high school to college and career preparedness. Today, the Common Core has been adopted by 46 States, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  By enabling American students to be fully prepared for the Common Core, they will be best-positioned to compete in the global marketplace.

Lesson 2 – Perseverance.  Get up and show up.

Educators know so well that “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up” and what you do when you get up. Despite the economy, the budget cuts, the contentious political climate, the clash of priorities and ideals, educators always get up and show up for their students.

Lesson 3 – Dedication.  In it for the kids.

Unlike many in business, most educators didn’t choose this profession to make a lot of money.  They’re not in it for the money. They’re not in it for the recognition either. It’s for the kids. Educators are dedicated to changing history – closing achievement gaps and ensuring no child falls through the cracks.  You can’t put a market value on the feeling resulting from seeing a child’s eyes light up because they believe in their potential and their future for the first time.

Lesson 4 – Collaboration. Share decision-making, responsibility and accountability.

Business is often divided into silos with an “us versus them” mentality. Departments compete with each other for resources and many fall down as others climb up the corporate ladder. Educators don’t just teach kids to share.  They show them how it’s done. They share decision-making with all the stakeholders in education – teachers, parents, students, and the community – and share responsibility and accountability for results.

Lesson 5 – Mutual respect.  Respect themselves and others.

Respect_smallEducators teach students to create supportive environments so everyone has the room to develop in new ways, to be the truest versions of themselves. They get up and lend a hand because they know every child is worth it.  They teach children how to respect themselves, how to lift their chin up high, and how to believe in themselves.

Lesson 6 – Innovation & motivation. Build on each other’s ideas and inspire.

Educators help create creative and inspirational environments for their teachers, students and staff. They build on each other’s ideas. It’s a compliment to “steal” a teaching technique or idea and build on it.  It’s about setting aside time to identify challenges and then developing unique solutions to solve them.

Lesson 7 – Commitment to lifelong learning. Desire to learn.

Lifelong learning and professional development is expected in education.   Educators’ desire for continuous opportunities for learning shows children the importance of education by example. Continual learning is prescribed time and time again by the greatest minds in the business world because businesses have yet to make it a reality. Businesses should be looking to educators to see how it’s done, because they have been doing it well for a very long time.

Lesson 8 – The importance of mentorship.

Educators take teachers and staff under their wings just as their teachers guide and mentor their students. They know the importance of mentorship because chances are they all had one. They had a teacher who inspired them as a student.  They pay it forward every day.

Lesson 9 – Community involvement. Build consensus to ensure student success.

Educators play a pivotal role in the community and build consensus among diverse groups to ensure a student’s success.

Lesson 10 – Leading with your heart is the only way to truly lead.

Educators have taught me that not only is it permissible to lead with your heart, but that it’s the only way to truly lead. They’ve taught me that sometimes a hug is more important than a handshake. Everyday at EdisonLearning I see our educators put in not only sweat equity to help students prepare for life, but heart equity as well.

The business world should take time to see what they can learn from educators. I can only imagine what the world we live in would look like if all business leaders followed the example of educators.

jeff-wahlAbout The Author

Jeff Wahl is President and CEO of EdisonLearning, a leading international educational solutions provider with nearly 20 years of experience partnering with schools, districts, governments, organizations, charter authorizers, and boards. You can follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffWahl1. Thumbnails via 123rf.com