Leaders Teach Others to Lead

[July 3, 2018]  Leaders are not born and people don’t instantly become leaders just because they are given a position of responsibility.  Leaders teach others to lead because that is the only way an individual can become an effective leader of people.

“A mind is a fire to be kindled, not a vessel to be filled.” – Plutarch, Greek biographer and essayist

Research has shown that when leaders teach other leaders, there is a long list of positive outcomes.

  1. It shows that leaders care about their employees.
  2. It shows that learning is something highly valued.
  3. It provides leaders with a platform to reinforce core values.
  4. It helps manage expectations.
  5. Is part of a positive work culture.1

You can learn leadership, in part, by reading and studying books.  You can also learn it from your parents and friends.  But to truly learn leadership requires a specific agenda developed and administered by one or more senior leaders.


In other words, any leadership development that works is one that is thought out in advance, planned, and executed on a flexible timeline that is adjusted to the needs of those who are students of leadership.

“Leaders teaching leaders” is the phrase most often used to describe this process.  It gives us a hint that the responsibility is with other leaders.  True to form, those organizations that have clearly articulated programs of teaching leaders how to be leaders, are those that are most successful.

Sadly, many leadership programs have failed to provide a return on the investment.  The issue that research on this subject has discovered is that a company’s senior leadership must be fully committed to it and free up the resources.  Ultimately what these programs do is show leaders what right looks like and what it looks like from those who have been there before.


  1. This list was developed in part by the work done by Andrea Derler in her article: http://blog.bersin.com/leaders-teaching-leaders-an-important-element-of-leadership-development/
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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

28 thoughts on “Leaders Teach Others to Lead

  1. Mark Evans

    A pleasure to come to your website today and read about a topic not often discussed and one that most organization leaders simply ignore. It should be at the top of their agenda.

  2. Martin Shiell

    Another informative post today. Thanks Gen. Satterfield !!

  3. Greg Heyman

    I’m off today so that I can get ready for tomorrow and the celebration of one of the world’s most significant events. One that reverberates even today … American’s Independence Day. Here is a shout out to all my friends across the globe for the part you have played to also help keep the world safer.

  4. Jung Hoon Kim

    Leaders may teach other leaders but they must also respect them.

  5. Shawn C. Stolarz

    When I was a young team leader in a large company out of Manhattan New York, I was told to go see an “old man who is on the fifth floor.” When I got there, this old man turned out to be a middle-aged man with a big smile and gave me a warm welcome. He would be my mentor, coach, and teacher for five years. My time there flew by and I learned more from him than I could ever have thought possible. Only because the company leaders thought enough to do this did I eventually advance and made, I hope, significant contributions to them. This is the result of leaders teaching leaders. Thanks.

    1. Dennis Mathes

      Good story, Shawn. Thanks for sharing your tale and reinforcing what Gen. Satterfield wrote today.

  6. Delf A. "Jelly"

    Without a positive culture of teacher leaders, few organizations will get very far; their attempt to achieve their missions will fail and they will hate what they are doing. I hope that the FBI and other such three-lettered govt agencies are able to overcome the progressive ideology that has trashed their reputation.

  7. Yusaf from Texas

    Envy destroys leaders, selflessness makes them. I hope that our senior political leaders understand that. Happy Independence Day (one day in advance).

  8. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    Another good post today by Gen. Satterfield who, like any good leader, understands how to be a leader with results. If a leader is not developing other leaders, then they are not a good leader in any sense of the word.

  9. Eric Coda

    One of the unexpected gains from leaders teaching leaders is that the culture of success is passed along. I never see a culture of failure passed because those leaders don’t take the time to teach others.

  10. Dale Paul Fox

    You made my day. Simple advice for a complex problem beginning. This is how we start to insure our junior leaders can achieve something more than the minimum.

  11. Army Captain

    Yes, a topic that goes to the heart of leadership. I once had a commander who would take the time and do whatever it took to ensure all us junior officers were trainined properly on how to be good leaders. To me, he was the best commander I ever had and why I stayed in the military.

    1. Bryan Lee

      Thanks for your service, Army Captain.

  12. Max Foster

    As we move into the 4th of July for our annual celebration of a great victory for national independence, we should keep this in mind. Great leaders are not born but are made. They are made by other leaders who take the time and make the commitment to them.

    1. Janna Faulkner

      Thanks you Max for helping us get straight to the point about Independence Day (tomorrow).

    2. Ronny Fisher

      Thanks Max. I always enjoy your insights here on this blog.

    3. Joe Omerrod

      In the medical field, leaders (senior doctors and nurses) teaching leaders (more junior folks) is a must. No one can become a great medical practitioner without this. Thus it has long be recognized.

    4. Max Foster

      Thanks guys for your kind comments.

  13. Darryl Sitterly

    Loved your article today because it hit home with me. My boss was great. He took the time to help me and teach me the right way to get others to do things. He taught me leadership even when I didn’t want it.

  14. Lynn Pitts

    Most people simply don’t get it. Why hide your information and techniques from others when you could be teaching, coaching, and mentoring them. Great leaders teach other leaders these things and much more. That is why they are great leaders. Just my opinion.

  15. Wilson Cox

    More good points on a great subject. Thanks.

  16. Eddie Ray Anderson,

    Good post today. I long advocated for a dedicated program on this very topic at work and they never “had the resources” to make it happen. We just continue to limp along doing the same old things and never seem to have our heads above water. My thinking is that better, more informed leadership, could pull us up. Thanks Gen. Satterfield for a timely article that I will be taking to my boss.

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