The other day I was asked to help out in a kindergarten class because their teacher had called in sick. While I am used to being at the front of the room leading seminars and trainings, I took immense pleasure in sitting in the back while watching the teacher's aid take the lead and instruct the class. It was such a joy to watch him engage with these children, entertain them, and truly listen and lead. Suddenly, it dawned on me that today's leaders, administrators, and managers could gain some pretty valuable knowledge from this TA With all that said, all I know about leadership I learned in a kindergarten class.
Here are the 10 leadership principles that the TA embodied and taught me:
1. L-Learn. A leader never stops learning and that includes from his / her own employees and subordinates. While a leader teaches, the best teachers know they are forever students. In today's day and age, something has happened where we are programmed to always be "on" and be the expert. If we constantly come from the place of the "expert mind" we shut down our learning or beginner's mind which can be a big turn-off to others. If we wear this expert's mind 24/7, others are not willing to learn from us, instead they shut us out. Does not really make for good leading then, eh?
2. E-Enthusiasm. What I saw from the teacher's aid for eight full hours was nothing but enthusiasm for his work. He never waivered! And, the students therefore hung onto his every word and they wanted to learn! Can you imagine if your boss, your leader came in everyday full of energy and enthusiasm? I bet you would want to get your work done simply because your boss made your job such a delight. Embody enthusiasm and watch people trust you and hang onto your every word.
3. A-Appreciation and Attentiveness. The best leaders show attentiveness. They truly listen. If something is unclear, they ask for clarity and do so with compassion. This of course makes their "followers" feel appreciated and a good leader lets their employees or followers know they are appreciated. A good leader is not afraid to provide positive reinforcement and acknowledgement for their people. In fact, they realize positive reinforcement and attentiveness are necessary for success in their businesses.
4. D-Diplomacy. When the little students in the kindergarten class were "out of line" or had done something wrong, the teacher's aid handled the situation with diplomacy and tact. He never belittled them or judged them. He actually "talked things out" with these young ones. He discussed with them his impression and what he had noticed but also gave them the opportunity to share their side of the story. After a concise and empowering discussion, he would make an appropriate decision on how to handle the situation. I believe many leaders do not do this. They often rush to judgment before knowing the full story of a situation. It happens all too often that their personality clashes with one employee and not the other and so they "take sides" rather than dealing with a negative situation constructively. When a leader truly wishes to know what happened, comes from integrity and diplomacy, in my opinion a situation will work out as positively as it can without anybody feeling wronged.
5. E-Enlightenment. I truly believe that a good leader is one that wishes to be enlightened. What I mean by this is the leader is constantly working on self-growth, personal development, education, and self-evolvement. They know that in order to inspire others they must be inspired themselves. Therefore, a good leader enlightens him or herself by participating in continuing education to keep them fresh, open-minded and motivating to others.
6. R-Respectful. What I have noticed in my years of working in and with businesses is that there is a continuous lack of respect for employees and staff. The trend, in my opinion, is that leaders and managers get smitten with the idea that they are in a position of power and therefore feel they can disrespect their staff. This has always baffled me because what ends up happening is that the leader ends up with no respect from fellow colleagues which means they then lack power. A powerul leader is somebody who has respect. So, give respect and you get respect and power!
7. S-Smile! I'll tell you what, this is what that teacher's aid did all day! He smiled even when times got tough with those little five-year-olds and guess what? The little guys smiled right back. There is something truly amazing about a smile. There is an energy-exchange.We feel comforted and joyous when we give one and we feel exactly the same when we receive one. A smiling leader demonstrates a happy leader and followers want to see their leader happy. This happiness is contagious. So give a smile frequently especially when leading: o)
8. H-Honesty. The number one thing I have learned since I became a Certified Coach is that we are all transparent. When we are not being honest, EVERYBODY knows! Being a leader takes a lot of integrity, honesty, and sincerity. Even when you make a mistake, trust me, people will respect you even more so when you own up to it and are honest. So take the high road of humility and honesty and you will win every time.
9. I-Innovative. A good leader is imaginative and innovative. They love to interact with others and share their ideas. A good leader is not scared of their ideas and wants others to benefit from them. A good leader is always coming up with creative ideas to keep things interesting, light and fun for his / her followers. Most importantly, they are not attached to their innovations as they are willing to build and construct with others.
10. P-Passion. I never thought for one moment the teacher's aid I worked with did not have any passion for his job. I'll tell you, he had so much passion he made me want to become a teacher's aid for a kindergarten class! Passion is infectious. People follow you and want to be with you when you have passion. Do not be scared to let it show, let it out! And, let it out all the time! In today's world, I believe people are afraid to let their passion flow out of them because they are too concerned with what others think. But, imagine for a moment if none of us had passion, none of us were truly committed to a cause or had purpose, what a boring and sad world it would be! So, tap into that passion, stand up and be a leader and help others find their way.
There you have it, 10 easy leadership principles to live by.
One of my favorite sayings the teacher's aid said all day was, "Great job, kiss your brain!" After the learning you did from this blog, realize you already have what it takes to be a phenomenal leader because you were willing to learn new things by reading this article (you already achieved Step # 1 -Learn) so pat yourself on the back and KISS YOUR BRAIN!
Yours in joy, living, and learning. -Life Coach Laurie