Teaching is Leading

In the Lead Change Google+ community, we host a Question of the Week. It is a time for people to stop, think, write, and exchange ideas and insights. It is an amazing community thing! A recent question was:

“In looking back, which teacher or professor made the biggest difference or impact in your life? It would be great if you can give their name and the reason why they made a difference.”

Who was your favorite teacher?

The answers flowed and highlighted below are some edited samples.

Linda Fitzgerald: Miss Baker, 3rd grade, who built my confidence as a young woman with a talent for writing; and Miss Hopkins who taught me about humanity!

Joy Guthrie: Edward Deavers was a very influential high school teacher. He gave me my first big confidence boost by casting me as a lead in an extraordinarily difficult play, "The Insanity of Mary Girard." He taught English and introduced me to several classic and thought-provoking books.

Ryan Setter: Every single teacher that I've ever had has impacted me in some way or another - good or bad. In either case, I think that it has had the same net result - made me a better, stronger, or smarter. If I were to name just one, I would have to say Mrs. Anderson - my 3rd grade teacher who was always so encouraging, always saw the potential in me, and taught me to do the same towards others.

Alli Polin: The top of the list has to be Dr. Harold Bershady.  He was one of my sociology professors in college. Harold showed me that learning happens through conversation and connection. He didn't just teach from a textbook but created a powerful learning environment. Harold cared deeply about his students and sparked a passion for learning and showed me how sociology connected to my innate curiosity about people and the systems they work in.

Eleanor Biddulph: My 11th grade U.S. Government teacher, Mr. Stanley, challenged and inspired students to think, question, debate and never, ever accept the status quo. More recently, Prof. John Kengla taught the "Senior Year Experience" class I took. He taught us the power of keen observation by having us write very detailed narratives about cherished memories; then made us rewrite them with even greater detail.

LaRae Quy: The one teacher that I frequently think about was one who challenged me and pushed the boundaries of my thinking. His name was Mr. Anderson and though I didn't like him, I respected him. He'd ask me a question and if my answer was too predictable or lightweight, he'd come right back at me. Often I was embarrassed, but I was so furious that I became determined to not let him get the best of me . . . as a result, I became a more critical thinker.

Bonnie Squires: My teacher was Mary Wheeling; she taught first grade and showed her kindness to me. I all so ended up living with her and was amazed at the fact that she had 12 children. She taught me how to turn old junk into new things. I was treated like one of her family members.

Barry Smith: I think the ones that I remember are the ones that were authentic. They cared about us as people and not just students, taking an interest outside the classroom, i.e. showing up at sporting events etc. "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." John Maxwell

Claudio Morelli: For me it was Bob MacKay, PE teacher and coach in grade 11 and 12. He inspired me to work harder to meet the potential he saw in me. He had a huge impact on me entering the teaching profession. Interestingly enough, I saw him at an education conference about 5 years ago and shared with him how grateful I was for his influence.

Teaching is leading.

Yes, it is. Just look at the leadership traits that pop from the stories. They include:

  • Confidence booster
  • Potential identifier
  • Curiosity encourager
  • Thought provokers
  • Critical thinkers
  • Kindness
  • Authentic
  • Coaching mindset

Leading is teaching.

There is a distinction. Leading is not telling someone what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Teaching is encouraging, guiding, coaching, and giving opportunities to lead and grow. Maybe the next question should be: Who was your favorite leader in the workplace and why? My hope would be the stories would flow as quickly and sincerely as these did. After all, isn’t this one of the key tests of our leadership impact?

Join in the conversation.

Join our Lead Change Google+ Community and participate in future questions and exchanges. Conversations make us stronger leaders, too. We will continue to highlight other conversations from our questions. Join in here now with your answer to: Who was your favorite teacher and why? Answer below!

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