Student of Leadership

I love the Buddhist saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” In my many years of teaching formal courses at the university level, I am a student right along with the class I am teaching. When I teach, I learn. I have yet to teach a class where I have not learned something from my many teachers, also known as my students. We are ever changing in this world and the cycle of learning and teaching never changes, unless of course we find ourselves closed off from learning. In order to be a good teacher, we must first be a good student.As we teach, we must remember that we are not transmitting information—we are transforming lives. That may sound a bit dramatic, but that is exactly what good teaching does; it transforms. Transformation comes about through many different forms: motivation, persuasion, mobilization, influence, and of course miracles. When we teach, we are in essence saying, I care about you, you are important, and I want to help. Wow, who wouldn’t be motivated forward with that type of message? Motivation also comes from demonstrating belief in others. Teaching affords us an opportunity to build esteem and self-efficacy. Think of Maslow’s needs hierarchy; esteem and self-actualization are the top highest levels. Teaching and learning meet both of the high order needs for yourself and for those you teach.Through the process of teaching, we build trust when we facilitate teaching with a learner-centered approach. Remembering that we are not just transferring information, but transforming others, we teach according to the needs of others. I use the same approach when I do training, coaching, or motivational speaking. First, I discover the needs of the audience and tailor my work to meet those needs. Of course, I provide resources and information to support their transformation, but first I must find out where they are stuck and where they want to grow.Effective teachers in a classroom setting know this and adjust their lesson plans to accommodate emerging needs that come up during instruction. We call these moments, teachable moments, when we can seize the opportunity and use it as a springboard for learning. A Native American proverb illustrates this concept, Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand. Once we identify the needs of the people and address those needs, then learning occurs and the outcome is performance.Remember this acronym:

  • Time – Take the time to invest in the development of others.
  • Empathy – Have empathy for those you teach, respecting the place they are in at that moment.
  • Awareness – Come into the teaching exchange with full awareness and presence.
  • Care – Create a safe space for learning to occur that is filled with care and compassion.
  • Help –Remember that when we serve others, we are truly love-based leaders.

How do you teach in your leadership roles? I love hearing from you.With love,Maria

5 Strategies Every Leader Should Model

As leaders, we often buy into the perception (more likely than not, self-imposed perception) that we must know the answers, be strong, and just like the Energizer bunny, keep going, going, and going.Enough already!As leaders, the most important lesson we can model and teach others is that we are human.As humans and leaders, we don’t always have the answers. This requires us to fess up and be honest. Big deal, we don’t have the answer. The difference between leaders and non-leaders is that we will find the answer…whatever it takes, we will find out.This may require us to do some research or ask someone else, who may have the answer. We may also need to tap into our intuition for inner wisdom to solve the surface question. And, my favorite resource of all, ask Source, Spirit, or God, who is always available 24/7, always honest, and always right on target.The perception that leaders are always strong is like saying it is always sunny. Just as nature has beautifully shown us, there are seasons to life. As living, breathing human beings, we too, have seasons. Our strength does not come by us always standing, our strength is our ability to get up again after we fall.Sometimes, this requires us to ask for help.Even the Beatles asked for help! Here are 5 strategies to remember when asking for help:

Try out your ideas first, and then if you still cannot figure it out reach out and ask.– When you ask, present your thinking so far, including some possible solutions or outcomes.– Don’t be a martyr or bad mouth yourself when you do ask for help– it’s not very attractive.– Ask a clarifying question. If someone asks you something and you don’t know the answer right away, simply ask them, “Well what do you think?”– Remember that asking for help could be a great developmental opportunity for someone else to also grow.

The beautiful benefit of our asking is that the helper receives a gift too, by serving. This is a win-win exchange. It can’t get much better than that!We cannot keep going, going, going. This is unrealistic and quite frankly, dangerous to our physical body, emotional health, and spiritual growth. We are not super-human, so we must stop pretending to be…it is killing us! We need to learn to ask for re-charge time and then take it! Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you.I would love to hear from you. What is the most challenging thing for you to ask for help?With love,Maria