When was your first exposure to leaders and leadership?

Our first exposure to leaders – might have been in the classroom...

As I walked my kids back to school after a great summer break, my youngest going to the “big elementary school” for the first time, I thought back to some of my favorite teachers.  That also got me thinking about what role those teachers played in my life and what role they’re playing right now in the lives of my own children.

When you think back to your first day of school, whether it was Kindergarten or 5th grade, who was it that set the tone, made it a great year or a not so great year?  Your home room teacher was your first real exposure to a leader.  Everyone loved their Kindergarten teacher, I think because they were the first person, besides our parents who nurtured us, took interest in us, yet held firm on rules, all while opening up an entirely new world of learning to each one of us in that classroom.

What do you look for in a leader or a mentor today?  Chances are you want someone who will teach you, empower you, believe in you, even push you to new heights.  It’s not that far off from your first day of Kindergarten, the stakes have just changed.  Today you want to do better to build your own business or make your way up the corporate ladder.  You want to be treated fairly and be recognized for your efforts.

Being a great leader doesn’t happen overnight, you need to make a plan, educate yourself, then prepare to inspire your students or employees.  There’s a trust factor that must be built, voices that need to be heard and respect that must be earned. 

I remember having two new employees in my office, smiling and nodding their head to everything I was saying, only later to tell me they’d heard it all before.  So what was different this time?  I built their trust because I listened to them, figured out my plan, then followed through with what I had promised them.  I made things happen, all the things my predecessors promised but didn’t deliver.  The trust built solely on that gesture, provided a foundation for one of the best working relationships you could have with two individuals.  They knew I believed in them, was true to my word and maybe most important, I had their back. 

Just like the first day of school, whether you’re a new or tenured teacher or leader you need to introduce yourself, get to know your students, go over the rules and then work side by side to start building the foundation for a great partnership. 

The Mediocre Teacher Tells.

The Good Teacher Explains.

The Superior Teacher Demonstrates

The Great Teacher Inspires! 

William Arthur Ward