Teaching vs. Reproducing

Leaders do what they want others to followWe know that someone coming right out of college or university has some great knowledge and a starting point for their growth as experts in their field. What is surprising is how often it is thought that having the education makes you an expert. There is no substitute for experience. There are so many variables in life that cannot be taught. Being a leader means being able to say “I’ve done that”.

I’m the chairman for the International Business Management Program at Georgian College here in Barrie and in our meetings we talk about how we help our students recognize that just because they have a diploma in business management does not mean they will walk into a management position.

A great manager is also a great leader and leadership is not taught. A great manager must be able to walk the path for the people she is leading. John Maxwell says, “You cannot give what you do not have. We teach what we know, but we reproduce what we are.” What he is saying is, you need to have the experience as the expert to be able to reproduce that expertise in others following you.

Check out his new book if you want to learn more about what you have to experience to become an amazing leader and manager in your business.


  • I had the exact same experience – came out of school thinking I knew it all, expected big money for my “expert” status. Didn’t get it. What I received instead was invaluable – the opportunity to learn on the job and take my expertise from “paper” to the real world. Took at least two years before I was really decent at it, another two years to truly know it and be confident about new challenges and situations. Great point!

  • Thank you for sharing your story Greg. I have heard this over and over. I think our school system needs to change, and is changing with some really amazing thought leaders in the right positions, so that students leave with realistic goals and an inspiration to make a difference with their unique talents, not their learned skills.

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