HELP! (A new way of defining leadership)

When asked the question, “what kind of experiences do you expect from a class where a teacher does not share his/her power (or leadership) with students?”, the students in the EDUC375 class (Second Semester 2007 batch…you know who you are!) responded:

  1. frustration
  2. rebellion
  3. discouragement
  4. a drop in self-efficacy
  5. creativity ‘killed’
  6. demotivation
  7. boredom

Although the world in general defines ‘leadership’ as a process of interpersonal influences (making people do what you want them to do), the students and teacher in the EDUC 375 class have decided that ‘leadership’ is an art of helping students to realize their potential and achieve greatness in life, beginning at the school. Sharing power (shared leadership) with students isn’t easy…but if it is seen in the light of helping and empowering students, it is something a teacher can’t afford to operate without!

But what does ‘true helping’ entail? The following profound philosophical insights about the art of helping will help us understand the kind of help we are talking about here…

“When I’m getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say, and two-thirds thinking about him and what he is going to say.”

Abraham Lincoln, an American president

If One Is Truly to Succeed in Leading a Person to a Specific Place, One Must First and Foremost Take Care to Find Him Where He is and Begin There.

In order truly to help someone else, I must understand more than he–but certainly first and foremost understand what he understands.

All true helping begins with a humbling.

The helper must first humble himself under the person he wants to help and thereby understand that to help is not to dominate but to serve, that to help is a not to be the most dominating but the most patient, that to help is a willingness for the time being to put up with being in the wrong and not understanding what the other understands.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Stephen Covey

2 thoughts on “HELP! (A new way of defining leadership)”

  1. One quote that I like about teaching:
    “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – William Butler Yeats

    I am not clear on “sharing power in a class.” It would seem that the teacher is the authority but different students learn in different ways. Kierkegaard’s key point, and the reason that I quoted him, was that if you want to “lead someone to a specific place” you have to “start where they are” and make sure you understand their concerns.

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