The thing about teaching leadership is that it cannot be taught in the didactic way we all learn maths, ABCs or statistics. Leadership can only be learnt through experience. And experience can only come from bad judgment, doesn't it? But how can we start with making bad judgment?
The wise man Isaac Newton once said that the dwarf standing on the shoulders of giants can see further than the giant itself. And this is how success is learnt in the new century. Not just from your own experience, but the experience of those who tread the leadership path before you. That's why we have mentors. And role models.
That's why Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner started conversing with the exemplary leaders of our time to create THE LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE.
Yet, easy as their principles seem to be, teaching it, facilitating it ain't no walk in the park. What then can help to accelerate the learning? Let us share with you 5 key tips!
1. Leadership is personal.
When Jim and Barry asked people to describe somebody who really inspired them, someone they would whole-heartedly follow, more than 80 per cent of the respondents named somebody that was personal to them. Not Obama or Clinton. Nor Jobs or Zuckerberg. It was someone who was about to make a personal connection to them. To teach TLC, perhaps that's what you need -TLC. Tender Loving Compassion. How can you connect with your students by telling your own personal story about leadership? A story where you overcame adversity, battled with doubts and fears and found a better version of yourself? Find that story within and tell it to your students to inspire and engage them. The more personal the better. Believe me stories add an added dimension to learning. Personal stories? They ignite learning neutrons fire over the roof!
2. The power of Framing.
Every lesson must always be accompanied by a frame. What frame do you bring to your lessons? When a presenter says, this next 10 minutes is going to be technical and boring, how do you think the listeners would behave in the next 10 minutes? That's right. Sleeping and dozing off. Have you ever been to USS when the guides, before letting the kids into the Shrek 3D show, storyteller the narrative with gumption and enthusiasm and so much suspense? How did that make the kids feel? Was there that tingling sensation of that excitement to come? Even as an adult you were intrigued. That what was to come next was going to be nothing short of amazing. What if you did the same with your TLC lessons? Do some framing. For a simple formula, framing would consist of :
A) Whetting the appetite of students by connecting with some of the struggles they may face as a student leader and sharing with them a secret formula....that is to come in the ....lesson.... that will help them solve the pain!
B) Sharing with them some expectations on how they should behave in the lesson. Say more of these words "I know that you will..." "I believe that you will ....." "As you listen more attentively, you will be more intrigued....." That subtle tweak in narrative makes a big difference!
C) Give a time frame and some rough sensing of what is to come and potray it in a way that is going to feel positive and meaningful for the students. For example, "Could I seek just 20 minutes of your time. We are going to play a game that from the onset, it looks like you have done it before, but actually, it doesn't look like what you think it is! Participate actively, open your minds to possibilities and I assure you this will be fun, and what's more you will learn 1 leadership principle that is gong to impact you deeply!"
3. When in doubt, ask- WHAT DO YOU THINK?
The thing about facilitating leadership, when you are stuck with deep questions that you think you cannot answer, remember you are not the leadership guru. You are facilitator. This is the power of reversal questions. When stuck, fake it till you become it and ask the class, "WHAT DO YOU THINK" You'll be really surprised by the answers you will get and the response you will hit when you let the class take ownership. So, WHAT DO YOU THINK?
4. Use the GROWTH Mindset
It's easy for educators to say "GOOD JOB!" "WELL DONE" or "AWESOME!" But sub-conciously we are breeding a mentality that students will then do something because they want the praise and not because they want to improve! This is called the FIXED MINDSET. Following the teachers of Carol Dweck, who advocates a GROWTH MINDSET (Watch an intro video here), to effectively teach leadership we need to validate students for their effort and not their achievement.
Consider this :
FIXED MINDSET : That was fabulous work for the activity!
GROWTH MINDSET : That was done so fast! Should have given you a more difficult challenge
FIXED MINDSET : Well done! That was an amazing performance!
GROWTH MINDSET : You have shown so much improvement from the first round! See, if you press on and hustle to get a result, you can only get better!
That subtle shift in narrative, but it makes a big difference! When you change your approach to praise and validation, you change the value judgment on the inherent ability of the student to a series of messages in the student's life that instead places the value on the process of learning.
5. Xerox Best Practices
We could always photocopy a lesson plan from another teacher and send it for mass copy.How many of us actually wished we could also xerox the best practices of a skilled teacher of facilitator and mass produce for the entire school! The thing is that we could actually do that! But xeroxing something in real physical life takes way more effort. Ask your teacher peers what went really well for them and think about how you could adapt these practices to fit your style. Even Apple had to borrow from the work of Chinese calligraphy to produce the MacBook Pro. Do your research and xerox best practices from different people- be it physically your colleagues or role models in school, or the performance of facilitators who are so readily available on YouTube and Ted.com. They say if you copy from one person that is imitation. if you model a few practices from a whole range of people, that's called market research!