Play 3 Critical Roles: Learner, Teacher, & Steward — Around a Core of Character

Many people define – either implicitly or explicitly – leadership as performing a series of common tasks like Planning, Staffing, Delegating (or Assigning), Controlling (or Influencing), etc.

Leaders must perform those tasks well.  However, performing them well is insufficient to effectively leading the organization.   Great leadership requires going far beyond performing those tasks well.  It requires that leaders play three roles – Learner-Teacher-Steward™  — in their effort to engage everyone in the organization and to get everyone “moving roughly West:”


Leaders must be on a continuous journey of improving their own capacities and potential.  They seek out new information and ideas about what will work best in the future.  They must be willing to question and challenge their own mental models (beliefs, assumptions and perceptions) of how the world operates.

Real learning requires that leaders not hide from failure or behave defensively when it occurs.  Failure must be viewed as an opportunity to learn.



Leaders must also be able to teach others what they have learned.  Leaders teach the values of the company, how the

company competes, what success looks like and what drives it, what behaviors are in-bounds and which are out-of-bounds, about the business and its performance, and about the skills and abilities it takes to be successful in the organization.


Leaders teach in many ways, through the examples they set, through the decisions they make, and through the actions they take, or don’t take.  Most importantly, leaders teach by encouraging others to examine their own mental models, beliefs, assumptions and perceptions.



Leaders must act as stewards to protect and to nurture the organization.  They must take a personal responsibility for preserving and enhancing the assets of the organization, its values, and its relationship with its shareholders, customers and employees.  They must be stewards of the vision, mission, and core values of the organization, the organization’s relationships with its customers, business partners, and the communities in which it does business; the passion and commitment of the people they influence within the organization; the assets of the organization (including human, intellectual, and physical); and the continuous improvement and long-term sustainability of the organization.