Share Your Knowledge and Become a Leader Who Develops Leaders
Updated: Oct 8
Inspirational leaders grow future leaders. They are deliberate about developing others around them and take pride in the progress they make.
Growing Future Leaders Takes Time and Commitment
As a leader, you have to evaluate your people's strengths and areas for improvement and understand their motivations and goals. You work together to develop a plan to achieve those goals. You encourage them to learn and give permission to make mistakes and learn some more.
And through this process, you improve as a leader yourself. As John C. Maxwell points out in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, “The only way to lead leaders is to become a better leader yourself.”
Leaders Are Constantly Learning
As you seek information and find ways to improve, don’t hoard all of that knowledge to yourself. Make it a habit to spread the lessons you’ve learned with the leaders you’re developing.
This happens as part of the feedback process when you meet with your team members to discuss their work performance. Maybe there’s a checklist you talk through or perhaps you offer suggestions for improvement. Feedback sessions can take place formally or informally, but ideally, you’re using this opportunity to share your knowledge.
Just make sure you’re sharing your knowledge in a way that is helpful to the member. This isn’t a time to brag about your achievements or try to make yourself sound smart. The feedback session should be focused on the member, not you.
Sharing Knowledge, Any Time, Any Where
You can share your knowledge at any time, not just during feedback sessions. And the knowledge you share doesn’t have to be restricted to work performance or leadership skills. It can be lessons learned from life or something that you’ve experienced earlier in your career.
Sometimes it’s as simple as giving a team member a heads up on how to deal with a difficult client. “Mr. Smith is very angry about how we managed his situation last week. Please be mindful of this when you talk to him today.” I’m sure the team member would appreciate this nugget of information and adjust accordingly to increase the chances of a positive outcome.
Other times the knowledge shared can be centered on technical skills or even an explanation of what you’re doing.
Last year, I underwent a medical procedure during which the physician explained step-by-step what he was doing. He wasn’t explaining it to me (although I found it interesting); he was explaining it to his medical technician. He didn’t do it because it was a teaching hospital but because he wanted to share his knowledge. The physician could have accomplished his work in silence. But by explaining what he was doing, the medical technician learned something new, felt like part of the team and was more invested in the outcome of the procedure.
Five Ways to Share Knowledge
As you can see, there are many ways to share your knowledge. Read on for five suggestions on how to implement a habit of sharing your knowledge.
1. Host Group Discussions
Hosting discussions on articles or books you’ve read, or podcasts you’ve listened to can encourage others to explore those articles and books. Invite people to share the lessons they’ve learned through their own experiences. Book clubs or weekly seminars are a great way to share knowledge.
I like to offer a quick discussion on a leadership lesson at the end of each of my staff meetings. This allows the leaders I’m developing at least 5-10 minutes of self-reflection each week on a leadership skill.
2. Encourage Cross-Talk
Maybe this is another way of ensuring open communication within a team. Poor communication tends to be the limiting factor of a well-functioning team. After all, nothing is worse than the team member who plays I’ve got a secret.
Share pertinent information about ongoing projects, especially with people who aren’t directly involved but may have an interest in the subject matter. This is all a part of deliberately growing and developing future leaders. Be the leader who encourages cross-talk and knowledge sharing and everyone else will follow suit.
3. Explain What You’re Doing
Today's workplace consists of employees from across the full spectrum of generations. Every generation has different life experiences that shape the way they approach problems in the workplace and leadership styles. Increasingly, I hear from seasoned leaders that younger generations of employees always want to know why. Why are we doing this and why are doing it this way? Sometimes this tendency is noted in exasperation, while other times it's noted as a fact.
But really, is there anything wrong with wanting to know why? Understanding the why can encourage someone to find an innovative way to achieve the goal. Understanding the why gets buy-in from the employee. Understanding the why can bring a greater sense of purpose and pride from the employee.
When you take the time to explain what you’re doing and why, the employee becomes invested and a part of the process, rather than someone who’s doing something because they were told to. Share your knowledge and don’t be afraid to talk about what you’re doing and why.
4. Encourage Knowledge Sharing Outside Immediate Scope of Responsibility
People who work in silos tend not to see or understand what’s going on outside of their silos. They view the world and operations only through the lens of their , but with cross-talk and knowledge sharing, there can be greater cooperation to achieve a common goal.
Recently my medical logistics department and pharmacy swapped technicians for a day to shadow and understand what the other does and how they support each other. The logisticians saw first-hand the demands of the patient at the window and the pharmacy technicians saw the volume of supplies and equipment processed each day. This shared knowledge resulted in a greater appreciation for all the things the others accomplished to take care of our patients on a daily basis.
5. Share Your Thoughts and Ask What They Think
Knowledge sharing is not one-directional. I love learning new things from the leaders I’m developing. Other people’s life experiences will be different from your own and will always offer a different perspective for you to learn from.
Cultivate an environment of knowledge sharing and learning and you will be a leader who develops leaders.
Comment below: What did you appreciate about leaders who have invested in your leadership development?