Last week was teacher recognition day at our church. The many people who volunteer in our children’s religious education program were recognized and thanked for their service.
The title of our minister’s sermon was “A Teacher Is One Who Talks in Someone Else’s Sleep.” With the influence of teachers in all situations in mind, he asked us some key questions:
- Who is speaking to you?
- Who are you speaking to?
- What messages are you sending?
As a leader, this resonated with me. Leaders are teachers in every sense of the word. We teach by what we say and what we don’t say; what we do and what we don’t do. We teach with words and gesture. We teach with how we respond to situations. We teach in how we treat people regardless of their position and level in the organization.
So, what kind of teacher are you? And what kind of teacher do you want to be?
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, has said, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”
When I take on a new position, I share with my team my values and guiding principles. I want them to know what is important to me and what I expect. And I continually reinforce those messages as we work together.
I have been in management for over 30 years. I’ve raised two wonderful daughters who are parents themselves now. I take my role as a leader and a parent seriously and try to be a good role model.
Parents are also leaders and teachers. What better example is there of how words matter than talking to small children? If you are a parent, you have had that moment when your toddler started saying things you say and making expressions that mirror yours. Looking in the mirror of your child and seeing yourself can be disturbing.
Words matter. Consider how Harvard University rescinded the admission of 10 students. It’s not just how you behave and speak in person, but also online and on social media. Your behaviors and words do matter on social media as well. For students, it’s never too soon to exercise behaviors expected of “positive digital citizens”; something schools and teachers are now encouraging in this online world we live in.
Sometimes, I get notes from people I worked with years ago in other organizations. They tell me what a lasting impact I had on them. They may just thank me or describe a specific situation where they were reminded of how I led and taught them.
So, whether you are a leader, a teacher, a parent, or all of the above you are shaping others. That is a responsibility to take seriously and do well.