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CHAPTER 11

Provide Teachable
Points of View

I need to become a well-educated person, as opposed to a well-trained


person. This means reflecting upon and deepening my own ideas, and
giving greater value to my own thinking. . . . We each have our own
theories and models about the world and what it means to be human. We
need to deepen our understanding of what we believe.
—Peter Block

You are more likely to succeed if you concentrate on transforming your


mental framework, rather than on memorizing mechanics.
—Rayona Sharpnack

My assumptions: Teachable points of view (TPOVs) are a


powerful means through which leaders can develop shared
understanding throughout organizations, develop leadership
in others, strengthen relationships, and produce results.
Effective TPOVs are expressed with clarity in simple, accessible
language.

I n The Cycle of Leadership: How Great Leaders Teach Their Companies to


Win, Noel Tichy (2002) recommended that leaders lead teaching
organizations formed around virtuous teaching cycles, in which “a
leader commits to teaching, creates the conditions for being taught
him or herself, and helps the students have the self confidence to
engage and teach as well” (p. 21).

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Provide Teachable Points of View 47

Leaders begin virtuous teaching


People with clear minds are
cycles when they craft their teachable
like magnets.
points of view (TPOVs). A TPOV,
according to Tichy (2002), is “a cohe- —Wilma Mankiller
sive set of ideas and concepts that a
person is able to articulate clearly to others” (p. 78). A TPOV reveals
clarity of thought regarding ideas and values and is a tool that
enables leaders to communicate those ideas and values to others.
Some possible topics for leaders’
TPOVs include the nature of human
learning and the type of teaching that New patterns of behavior usually
promotes it, the meaning and value of only occur when I, the change
professional learning communities, agent, have a new viewpoint
how assessment can contribute to and a new purpose.
student learning, and the role of par- —Robert Quinn
ents and other community members in
improving teaching and learning.
“The very act of creating a Teachable Point of View makes people
better leaders,” Tichy (2002) wrote. “[L]eaders come to understand
their underlying assumptions about themselves, their organization
and business in general. When implicit knowledge becomes explicit,
it can then be questioned, refined and honed, which benefits both the
leaders and the organizations” (p. 97). And the creation of TPOVs
and virtuous teaching cycles is central to one of a leader’s most
important tasks, Tichy points out—developing leaders throughout
the organization.
But developing a TPOV is not a simple or easy process, Tichy
(2002) recognized. “It requires first doing the intellectual work of fig-
uring out what our point of view is, and then the creative work of
putting it into a form that makes it accessible and interesting to
others. . . . We live our lives and do our jobs based on a huge internal
database of assumptions and ideas, but we usually aren’t very aware
of what they are or how they shape our behavior” (p. 100).
Tichy (2002) strongly recommended “writing as an essential part
of the process of developing a TPOV” (p. 103). In addition, he rec-
ommends reflecting, getting feedback from others, and revising. “The
process of articulating one’s Teachable Point of View is not a one-time
event. It is an ongoing, iterative and interactive process,” Tichy wrote
(p. 103). Tichy (2002) underscored:

Coming up with the initial TPOV really is hard work. . . . It


starts with the leader taking a mental inventory of the stuff
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48 Transformation Through Clarity and Creation

inside his or her head. It requires a total commitment of head,


heart and guts. The head part is the intellectual work of tak-
ing decades of implicit internal knowledge and making it
explicit. It means examining your own thought processes and
behavior to figure out why you do the things you do. It means
framing the various ideas and beliefs that underlie your
actions, and then tying them together into a cohesive
whole. . . . The heart part is generating the enormous amount
of emotional energy required to the job thought. . . . And the
guts are about opening yourself up and letting others see
what really is, or isn’t, inside of you. (pp. 101–102)

EXAMINE YOUR ASSUMPTIONS


Write your assumptions regarding the value of leaders’ TPOVs, stat-
ing them as succinctly and powerfully as possible. For instance, you
may believe that leaders don’t have sufficient time to develop TPOVs,
especially in writing, and that this task is the job of other specialists
in the organization. Share your assumptions with colleagues in the
spirit of dialogue.

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DEEPEN YOUR UNDERSTANDING


Describe a time when you felt clear about what you thought about a
particular educational issue and how your clarity affected the thinking
and actions of others. For instance, as a result of experience, reading,
study, and discussion, you may have acquired a depth and breadth of
understanding about ways to successfully teach all students that you
were able to express clearly and effectively to your colleagues.
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Provide Teachable Points of View 49

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ENGAGE IN NEXT ACTION THINKING


Identify a topic of importance to you or your organization. Set aside
a time to clarify your views on this subject in writing, perhaps redraft-
ing your view several times to gain clarity. Specify a date by which
you will have developed a first iteration of this TPOV and the indi-
viduals or groups with whom you will interact regarding your view.

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REFERENCE
Tichy, N. (2002). The cycle of leadership: How great leaders teach their companies
to win. New York: HarperCollins.