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Power of Education: The EDGE Method

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” –Benjamin Franklin

The topics we have discussed so far are internal concepts. Finding your identity, not being offendable, learning how to control the words you speak, being courageous—these are ways that we can work on ourselves in order to fully live our purpose and serve others. As CEOs and leaders, however, it’s important to also understand how to help others find their purpose in the context of your relationship with them. They look to you to understand the vision of the business, the purpose, and the processes. But how do you do that?


The first step is identifying how you’re doing that now. How do you lead? Are you a dictator, or a guide? Most organizations are what Stephen MR Covey defines as “command and control” organizations. They tell their people to do something without teaching or guiding them, then trust them to figure it out, which almost always leads to failure and shame. If this is your leadership style, I’m not implying that you’re setting your team members up for failure intentionally. Many leaders think they’re trusting people by operating this way, but this method is actually disabling.


You may say, “No that’s not me, I tell my team members exactly what to do.” That’s good, they do need to know what to do, but do they know why? Do they have personal ownership over the outcome? Is it important to them that the outcome is good?


When you assign responsibility to a team member, you give them a checklist and a goal and let them take it from there. They tell you, “I can understand the checklist, sure.” Then we tell them we trust them—because we hired them and we figure they must be good people, right? But just because they’re good people doesn’t mean they’re competent in a specific task. With nothing more than a checklist providing accountability, they feel abandoned and incompetent, which leads to failure.


In a situation like this, your team member is negatively motivated to follow the checklist so they don’t get in trouble, not so they can succeed and grow. They don’t understand the underlying concepts of the task, just the steps to get there. In a command and control organization, people are given information on an as-needed basis. In a trust and inspire organization, everything is explained with the EDGE Method.


In this new series, we’re going to really dive in and explore what the EDGE Method is, why it’s important, and how to implement it. This is something that will completely transform your leadership style and your relationship with your team members.


The EDGE Method


E: Explain and then Educate


Education is the first step in the EDGE method and consists of thoroughly educating your team member about the task at hand. Educate and explain. Make sure that they know the ins and outs of the entire procedure, not just their own part in it, so they understand how their role ties in to the whole. You can do this by starting with a process flow diagram. That visual aid helps them see and understand where the process takes them to the point of success, then you can bring in the checklist to educate them on how to actually implement the process.


D: Demonstrate


Next, demonstrate. When you learned how to drive, even before you started, you were drawing on a lifetime of demonstration. In your driver’s ed class, you received even more demonstration as the instructor drove you around a bit, explaining what was going on. They also showed you videos of people driving, and in some cases allowed you to use a driving simulator to experience the process before actually doing it.


Explanations and manuals are wonderful tools, but nothing beats watching someone do something that you’re trying to learn. Baking is another great example. Maybe you grew up watching your parents or grandparents cook. At some point they likely gave you direct demonstrations of what they were doing and why, while going through the recipe (checklist) with you.


G: Guide


After you demonstrate, it’s time to let them try it with your guidance. This process involves the education and the demonstration, only this time they’re in the driver’s seat with you there to anticipate possible mistakes, correct any mistakes they may make, and keep them safe while they practice and build confidence.


E: Empower and Enable


This is a crucial step. Once your team member goes through the first three steps, if done correctly, they’re becoming consciously competent, moving toward eventually becoming unconsciously competent. Now is when you give ownership of the process over to them. This not only gives their work meaning, but it continues to solidify the process in their minds. At this point, they assume the role of guide. When another team member needs to go through the EDGE method to learn this process, they will be ready to walk them through it, causing them to think even more deeply about the process until they become a true expert in that operation.


In the next blog, we’re going to dive deep into the first step, E, Educate.

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