Monday, March 19, 2018

Leadership Lesson from a High School Teacher


Leadership is NOT a position it is motivating and inspiring others. How many of you remember your favorite teacher in high school?  What made them your favorite teacher? I remember my favorite high school teacher, Ms. Poga.  She believed in “everyone”.  She saw the good in everyone.  She championed the students who seemed to be “outside” the popular groups.

 Once she saw something in you, she made sure you had opportunities to be good at that “something”.   She often picked the kids who weren’t the “most popular” to do things for her to show all of us that each person had value.  By believing in everyone she made those who weren’t the most popular believe in themselves.


 Ms. Poga was the advisor for the high school yearbook.  When I was a sophomore she recruited me to work for the yearbook.  At first I worked at writing the copy.  She knew I could tell stories and was able to get others interested in what I wrote. As a junior she asked me to take pictures because she knew that I had the ability to see the moment. When I was a senior she made me the yearbook editor. She saw in me the ability to lead and motivate people to meet deadlines. Because of what she saw in me, she seized the opportunity to help me grow while I served as the yearbook editor.


I learned that leadership is not about power, but about influence. Encouraging others by sharing with them the positive you see in them creates an asset based mind set.  People want to do things that they believe they are good at.  Pointing out those things reinforces in others a belief that they are appreciated for what they are good at doing.  

I remember when I was an assist coach in high school hearing players say, "I suck" after they made a mistake on the court.  I would then pull them aside and ask them to consider a different mindset.  I told them that I would prefer to see the mistake as a one-time event rather than a reflection of who they were as a player.  I often wondered whether or not I was getting through to them.  I wasn't even sure they understood what I was trying to say.  Then one game one of the player made a turn over and looked at me and said, "My bad!"  I was shocked.  In that moment I realized that finally this player understood that a mistake is not a matter of character, but a matter of execution.  

Leaders can go a long way in shaping someone's work self-esteem.  Find the good in people and they will live up to your expectations.  

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