In a recent newsletter, James Clear offered the following challenge: Think of the best coach, teacher, or leader you ever had. What can you learn from them? Think of the worst coach, teacher, or leader you ever had. What can you learn from them?
It was easy for me to identify the best leader I ever had. When I was still in college I had an admin job in the office of a small construction company. My boss, the office manager, was very direct with me from the first day, telling me “I want you to not only learn everything I know, but also outgrow my skills and knowledge.”
What can I learn from that? She was confident in her abilities and value to the organization. She did not feel at all threatened by me, even as she understood one day my value to “someone” might be greater than hers. She wanted to mentor me and help me grow.
The worst leader, there’s been a couple so I’ll meld them into one, since some characteristics were very similar. They used their power to diminish me. Their tone in “instructing” was threatening rather than guiding or supporting. One of them out and out lied and used gaslighting to try and “control” me.
I need to be honest, authentic, and trustworthy.
What can I learn from those experiences? When I am in a more “powerful” relationship (e.g. with students) I need to continually reflect on my behavior and make sure I am using that power to guide, support and mentor rather than break down. I need to be honest, authentic, and trustworthy.