Are YOU a Leader as Teacher?

It was 10 p.m. and he was still going strong. What fascinated me was there wasn’t a sleepy eye in the room, and this was the fourth night of our CEO class.


Who was teaching this late at night?

It was Signature’s CEO teaching a rigorous and challenging module on healthcare innovations, policy, and how to build an enterprise for the future. Joe Steier, CEO of Signature HealthCARE, is an example of a leader who truly teaches. Joe has set the stage for all Signature Stakeholders to be leaders as teachers. By modeling this, he:

  • Inspires everyone, from housekeeper to CEO, to radically change the landscape of long-term care forever.
  • Sets high expectations for all of us to research, prepare, and teach each other, and makes this a priority for all leaders at Signature.
  • Creates a mindset for everyone to not just teach, but to help people put on a different lens and solve problems with a higher level of thinking across the organization.

Really? Your CEO teaches a class?

Yes, all the time. He teaches all the time. Here are just two examples:

  • During our biannual CEO meetings, he teaches for at least one day. He surveys the CEOs to understand what is on their minds, tailors the agenda to their requests and the latest research, and works day and night to help our CEOs be the best in the industry. He is the consummate leader as teacher. He stays up late to prep – he never wings it with an audience, and I admire that in him. He brings the latest healthcare thought leadership to us and challenges the lens in which we see the world by diving into controversial, provocative topics.
  • Every two months, we have a senior retreat meeting where he teaches his key leadership team for two days straight. Joe poses a question on a key business issue, models it out on a white board, and shares evidenced-based research with us. He pulls us together to come up with creative, innovative, and unique solutions to problems.


Joe Steier teaching during CEO School

Joe Steier teaching during CEO School

And, he isn’t the only one!

At Signature HealthCARE, all of our leaders are teachers. Yesterday, Kathy Owens, our Chief Nursing Officer, was a leader as teacher for our Staff Development Community of Practice. Kathy prepped, prepared, and discussed clinical updates and priorities to over 50 educators across our network.

The week before, Missy Highley, our Business Development Director was a leader as teacher for our Marketing and Admissions Community of Practice. Missy brought her thought leadership on Community Partnerships and Competitor Analysis to 70 stakeholders across the Signature enterprise. What I love about Missy is how quick she was to jump in and teach – even though she is fairly new to the Signature Revolution!

I’m blessed to know a rare and gifted genius, Stephen Stocksdale, who has graciously offered to mentor the Learning Pillar team. Stephen meets with our team, usually two hours at a time, and helps us understand the intricacies, complexities, and nuances of our multifaceted business model. He is patient, thoughtful, and very skilled at taking a complex topic and simplifying it for a newcomer to healthcare to understand. He is truly one of a kind.

One of my favorite leaders as teacher is our Urban CFO, Tiffany Hoback. When I first started at Signature HealthCARE, she sat down and helped the Learning Team revamp how we teach our business model to new leaders. As we take this business model (our Data Points) to all stakeholders, she puts in countless hours as our subject matter expert. She never complains when we ask her to critique our drafts or edit our tests. She is quick to respond, eager to help, and truly a subject matter expert who is willing to teach.

There are so many leaders as teachers at Signature – I could go on and on – but there are simply too many to mention them all.   I am thankful to all of them for the preparation, delivery and willingness to share across the organization.  It takes courage, determination and a commitment to be a leader as teacher.

How about you? Are YOU a leader as teacher?

  • If you are asked to be a “leader as teacher” for a Community of Practice session, do you say yes?
  • Do you put in the rigorous preparation Joe Steier does for his sessions?
  • Do you show us, even when you are as busy, like our Kathy Owens our CNO?
  • Do you eagerly jump in to help convey new thinking to other stakeholders, even if you are new yourself, like Missy Highley?
  • Do you put in countless hours to make sure our content has rigor, is well-designed and properly delivered like our CFO, Tiffany Hoback?

If not, I’m challenging you to be a leader as teacher!   Why?  Well, there are so many benefits to your organization, your peers, and your personal brand.

So what is holding you back?
If time is your concern, I would argue that if our CEO, Joe Steier, or our CNO, Kathy Owens, has the time to teach, then you have the time to research, prepare, and deliver messages to your team, your facility, your coworkers, and your peers.

Dianne Timmering, Alicia Heazlitt, and myself in a panel presentation during CEO School

Dianne Timmering, Alicia Heazlitt, and myself in a panel presentation during CEO School

If you don’t consider yourself good at teaching, consider teaching in a format that is comfortable to you! Set up your teaching as an interview format, a panel presentation, a small group storytelling session. All of these modes can be more comfortable and more interesting than an hour long presentation. Start small, look for spontaneous moments when you can begin to teach. Don’t be afraid to work with your team and begin to teach, think, and solve problems – whether it is on a bar napkin, an excel spreadsheet, or a whiteboard! Whether you know it or not, you are always teaching!


When you are a leader at Signature, you can learn more about being a Leader as Teacher during our learnFEST Virtual Conference on November 4th from 4 – 4:50 pm. We will have Ed Betof, author of Leaders as Teachers, facilitating a thought provoking discussion on how you can be a Leader as Teacher!

Ed Betof

Ed Betof

I find every time I am a Leader as Teacher, I learn more than I ever imagined!

“When leaders master the art of teaching, they’ve laid a powerful foundation for an enduring great company.”
Jim Collins, Good to Great


3 thoughts on “Are YOU a Leader as Teacher?

  1. Pingback: Leaders as Teachers at Signature Health | Leaders As Teachers

  2. Mark Wortley

    Excellent Mary!
    It’s very motivating to work in a company that supports ongoing learning as a Pillar.
    The more leaders as teachers we have the stronger we will be


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