The following post coincides with the reading of the Chapter 8 - 10 in the book The Truth About Leadership by James Kouzes and Barry Posner.
This will be the final post concerning the book The Truth About Leadership. The authors have done a wonderful job building on previous concepts that are time-tested through research and experience. They have interviewed and obtained narratives of the examples from real-life practice. Today we look at the application inside and outside of the classroom.
My ability to look inside relates to how I interact and empower my students to become better leaders. There were many concepts throughout the chapters, but a few stood out over others that applied to my instructing and leadership inside the classroom.
Leadership is an Affair of the Heart (chapter 10)
When I show the students in my classroom the love I have for learning and music education, they can't help themselves from jumping on board the learning train. Just the other day I found myself watching an insightful documentary titled Crescendo: The Power of Music that tells the story of El Sistema, Venezuela's youth orchestra program that continues to bring social transformation to millions of disadvantaged youths.
See the TED talk below which discusses the powerful program...
Watching this film rejuvenated me in my classroom and I found myself teaching with a spark I had forgotten I had. The director in a band setting controls the context of the classroom on a minute by minute basis. I often refer to the board in the front of our room that daily states...
Photo Courtesy of http://facingmygoliath.com/attitude-is-everything/
I was able to demonstrate to my students that I have passion! Passion for music, for learning, and for empowering them as learners.
Chapter 10 also discusses the idea of showing recognition to the people you lead. I strive to do this on a daily basis. Giving props goes a long way in the classroom, especially when students don't expect it. I recently put up a list on my wall of all 200 of the students I teach. My goal is to contact each student and their parents and give recognition about achievement. This may all year, but I have no doubt that the effort will be well worth the reward. Through giving recognition, I believe I am empowering my students to achieve even more.
Lead By Example (chapter 8)
I have found that with co-workers the best work I can do is the work I do myself. I have found that others follow a positive example that is set for them. This means that I cannot ask anyone to do something that I am not willing to do myself.
Sometimes this task is as simple as taking out the trash and keeping the space clean. While I often find myself confused and frustrated as a manager of our auditorium space, I have recently found relief. As I take a little time to create new ideas and keep the space organized, others have be doing the same. Through taking pride in the space, the need for verbal instruction has ended.
I often use this method inside my classroom as well. Instead of asking students to keep their personal spaces organized and clean, I do it for them. It only takes one time. The will not leave their materials out and in disarray. By opening myself up to doing the task I am requiring of others, my students often achieve the goal without direct instruction.
Leading by example outside of the classroom relates directly to getting things done. So often I find that we talk about what we want to do and how we want to do it, but just getting it done is often more productive and a more positive approach. Less talking, more doing is a great way to get others to follow.
I find that the leadership trait that I find myself using most often is the best leaders are the best learners (chapter 9). I have a passion for learning and a self-inquiry into how I learn. I feel that in an innovative world where the problems of tomorrow are not known yet today, the best trait that I can continue to hone in on is a continued growth model. How do we grow? Through learning.
While in some instances learning comes naturally, in others it doesn't. I find that I have to continue to challenge myself by putting myself in uncomfortable situations. This sometimes means going into a situation where I am considered the "green" individual in the room. While uncomfortable and at times fearful, I believe this to be necessary to continue to develop my trait of learning to be a positive, supportive, and productive leader.
As I read through this book I continued to be reminded about how I feel about leadership. What kind of leader do I want to follow? I come to the conclusion that leaders are not self-absorbed or hierarchical. Leaders are supportive, empathetic, and life-long learners. It's okay to be wrong and it's okay to admit that you don't know the answer. I challenged myself to come up with two words that would describe the kinds of leader I aim to be. They are...
Positive and Productive