Reflections on leadership

Teaching or showing someone how to perform a task is an investment of yourself; if you show someone how to properly perform a skill, your efforts will show-in ever greater proportions as time passes. If your instruction is lazy or shallow, that will reveal itself-in ever greater proportions-as time passes.

I am writing about teaching, I am writing about leadership-to me they are almost the same. A good teacher has great leadership skills and a great leader only maintains their leadership through great teaching.

A person who seeks skills, will only pattern their work after someone who is a good leader. We all seek good mentors and our minds will only invest in someone who has traits we admire, fortunately these traits make for good teachers. Patience, intelligence and attention to detail show that you not only care about the work, your care about the person performing the work. Only desperation would cause someone to invest their time in an instructor who only cares about the work and not the worker.

I am not a school teacher however I have trained many people in my profession which is 911 telecommunication. Training is hard, detailed work and most are a little tired after a full day. A big part of being a trainer/instructor/educator is staying healthy. Decent food, good sleep and some sort of physical activity prepares your body and mind for doing work that will reflect well on you, years from now. The time spent to live well is a good investment-avoid the Ramen noodles and late-night movies!

If you are a trainer or teacher and have said harsh words to a student out of frustration then your are only hurting yourself. Impatient, emotional words derail education and make learning less efficient. Students look for teachers/leaders who they can admire. If you are not in control of such basic emotions as frustration, you are not a teacher or a leader-you are an explainer, maybe not even that much. If your student does not admire your character, they may not believe your words.

Failure to prepare is preparation for failure. Good instructional materials are about 1/3 of learning. I have seen “instructions” which are really nothing more than a job list. Learning materials are a road map, not hastily-scribbled jottings on a Post-it note. There are no short-cuts on my road-map.

Training, for me, comes down to one phrase, “DO THE WORK.” When you work hard at sharing your knowledge, others will help you perform the work; most people want to be involved and many hands make light work. If you are constantly performing daily tasks, you cannot energetically perform the tasks of a leader-this is why a leader must be a good teacher. Loading knowledge into eager minds, in a professional manner, pays dividends as trainable tasks are now performed by others. This allows a leader to chart philosophical or monetary courses which will make the business, a governmental agency or family unit stronger and healthier.

Finally, quit using negative motivation-it is a childish technique that only works on children. It is not sustainable as any education made using negative motivation will be undermined by resentment. If you are coaching athletes in their teens to mid-20’s it might work however older people will recognize the technique and find your leadership/teaching techniques hollow, insincere-and childish.

Teaching and leadership are a challenge, particularly since lack of one will limit the other. The plus side is that accumulation of either skill accentuates the other. It is a worthwhile act to become the kind of person that can help others learn and invest themselves one day.

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