Why All Leaders Are Teachers

by Mala Sharma

posted on 06-04-2018

Can you think back to a teacher who made a difference in your life? Perhaps it was someone who made you realize the beauty of literature. Maybe it was someone who unlocked the fascinating depths of science or the elegant solutions of math. Maybe it was someone who sparked your interest in music or art, or who gave you an appreciation for the remarkable world in which we live – to paraphrase the words of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, all the beauty and tragedy of humankind’s contribution to it.

No matter how this teacher touched your life, he or she might have transformed it, sparking your curiosity, opening new possibilities, helping you discover hidden talents and interests. How can we ever repay someone for touching our life in this way? I don’t know that we can. But we can say “thank you.” We can express our gratitude and let that teacher know that he or she made a difference to us.

That’s the sentiment behind a video Adobe posted in celebration of Teacher Appreciation week. The video, about a celebrated journalistic photographer who imparted his wisdom, experience and passion to groups of young students, is only a few minutes long. But it stays with you. I found myself thinking about it often after watching it multiple times.

Chander Rekha Sharma (my mother, who has been a teacher all her life)

Perhaps I loved this video so much is because my mother was a teacher who was also loved by her students. At this point, she has more Facebook friends than I do – mostly former students she touched in some way. And even though she’s officially retired, she’s decided to teach underprivileged children in Mumbai, India. Her role as a teacher will never stop.

I think this is true for leaders, too – and part of why my mother is such an inspiration to me. We are all teachers, even if we don’t see ourselves that way. Every time we show up, we have an opportunity to teach someone. Every interaction affords an opportunity to give, and take away, a learning. The more we recognize that, the more we understand the power we have to make an impact on those around us. Having that recognition makes you up your game as a leader. I know it has for me.

Additionally, one of the things I love about my role at Adobe is that, although I do not interact directly with students, I can be part of the vitally important experience they have in school. Adobe is doing some great work in providing creativity tools for students, and we consider it a privilege to support their classroom experience and help them learn to express themselves and develop the self-confidence they will need to be successful in school and in the world.

On behalf of Adobe, I wish all the teachers among you continued success and fulfillment in your careers. I’m sure that many, many of you deserve to be honored as Mr. Maharaj is honored in the brief Adobe video. We thank you for all that you do.

Topics: Community