Leadership Lessons from the Classroom
I know the power of relationships and I also know that, if we look at successful teachers we can learn some leadership lessons from the classroom.
I have been blessed to have many great role models in my life. Two of those are my momma and my dad. I’ve shared with you a lot about my Daddy and his years of experience and expertise in the management world. But, I’ve not shared as much about my Momma…
Momma’s childhood dream was to be a teacher, she got there via nursing as her first career and then in her late 30’s, early 40’s that crazy woman (mother of 5) went back to college and got her degree in elementary education and began her second career… the career of her dreams… at the age of 40.
My Mom has tried to retire three times from teaching, each of the first two times she just couldn’t do it and returned to the classroom. This last time we decided to throw her an enormous retirement party thinking that would help it stick and thus far it has.
She taught from the heart with a calling that drove her to be the very best educator she could be. Momma knows and understands the importance of relationships within education. She has worked that angle every year and the students she has taught are better for it.
I’ve learned many lessons from watching her teach… lessons that started with my students but translates perfectly to the world of business, administration and leadership.
Leadership Lessons from the Classroom:
Mom journaled with students, everyday the kids would write to her on any subject they needed to share and at night… Mom would write back.
Communication is critical to success. Keep an open line of communication with your team and make certain they feel their voice is important.
Mom used volunteers effectively in her classrooms. I was one of those volunteers!
Volunteers can assist in so many ways, especially if you are a school or a non-profit organization. Check out this article on Volunteers.
Mom first and foremost was herself. There was no trying to be something she’s not and there were no apologies for it.
Management is about being yourself. I had a friend recently tell me that she just isn’t like me and just wants her staff to get it done! I respect that and encouraged her that you don’t have to look like, talk like and act like a cheerleader to be a really great cheerleader. Be you!
Mom understood that each person travels their own road and that impacts their day.
Every person on your team travels their own road to get to work each day. That road is full of adversity, stress, excitement and changes. Respect that they have lives outside of their job.
Mom knew the power of re-teaching.
As leaders, we teach and sometimes we have to re-teach. Give your staff the opportunity to relearn a skill or process that they didn’t catch the first time. Re-teaching is a powerful thing… just remember, never teach it the same way twice.
Mom would partner kids up to help support struggling students.
Partnering people up on projects is great for your organization and for your team. Look for skills that one has and the other needs to learn. A great program person who needs to learn some skills on documenting procedures. Pair him/her up on a project to see those skills being put to use by an expert at it.
Mom would teach to all modalities.
Our staffs have great qualities, just remember for some it’s easier to keep it all in their head and putting it down on paper is extremely difficult. Have them talk into their phone and then email the information to themselves. It’s a great way for an auditory learning to get it into a visual format. We all have our strengths, work smart to utilize them.
Mom introduced challenges to her students.
A job without challenges… is…. well…. just that… a job. Present challenges, on occasions and support your team to be successful.
Mom always provided her kids with necessities they might be missing at home.
Our teams have basic needs and although I’m not recommending the basic three (food, water and shelter) they do need the emotional basics. (safety, belonging, esteem, self actualization)
Mom was a believer in positive reinforcement.
You can get more with honey than you can with vinegar. Never forget that!
Mom did not shy away from any topic.
Talk about what you need to talk about. If someone is not performing, talk to them. Don’t ride the fence and don’t be afraid. As a manager, you must talk about all topics, in the right way and at the right time.
Mom loved to celebrate with her students.
Celebrations are motivators and they make a difference. Celebrate!
Mom would do fun and out of the ordinary lessons, like flying a kite.
Out of the ordinary is a great way to keep things interesting. A job without a little excitement is going to lend itself to attrition.
Mom would create projects that started in her classroom but would end up with the entire school participating.
The idea of change starting at the base level of an organization is exciting and powerful. Create an environment that would allow that type of change to happen.
Mom always included the kid’s families.
Ask about people’s families. Such a simple thought and yet it goes a long way. Include their families when possible.
Mom dressed for success.
A leader should set the example for the entire organization.
Great leadership is not just from the CEO of a company, organization or the principal of a school. Leadership is generated at the very base of an organization. Look around and see where you see leadership and then recognize it for the greatness that it is.
***By the way…. if you didn’t catch it…. I think my mom was and always will be one of the GREAT Teachers of our generation.***