What is the message I am teaching?

How many of us, when we first started teaching, spoke a different message than we do now? When it comes to teaching, many teachers are “talking” way further down the road, then they are actually “walking.”

The struggle for many is that we are talking so much and in so many areas where students cannot hear our message. Or do they? The contrast of what is heard between not saying something and saying something is profound, and our students are listening.

Any given day, we can point to areas where we know our teaching has not caught up to the truth we are speaking and sharing with others. It is at this point in time we must remember the idealist mission we first started with. I believe the challenge of our message is, “Are we doing right with and by students?” In all humbleness, we teach to grow and serve students to be more and better than they realize they can be.

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Deep down, we know what a message of teaching should sound like. We know about pedagogy, methodology, classroom management, best-practices… and since we know these things, we automatically think we have them. But, do we know about teaching the message of kindness, patience, fairness… yes, we know about these as well, but we do not automatically have them.

The message we speak for our students carry beyond the time we have them in class. We can make all the necessary changes here and there to make ourselves better teachers. However, if we do not find a platform on which to stand for our students, and actually hold them accountable and be for them, the platform we stand on is not any better than trying to stand on a 2×4 in the ocean.

Being a quality teacher is teaching a message that gives credibility to others and as a byproduct, credibility to you in return. This message must be part of ourselves and not lip service. Let your “walk” and “talk” catch up with each other.  Everyone will be better for it.

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2019 J Clay Norton

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Lead with Your Eyes Wide Open…

Have you ever tried walking a reasonable distance with your eyes closed? Obviously, you end up stumbling, but for some reason, you lower your head, thinking that you can “see” your steps and ways better.

Think for a moment with me on this… instead of thinking about walking with your eyes closed, how many leaders do you know who lead with their eyes closed? Just like walking, they lead with their head lowered, thinking they can “see.” Yes, they are short-sighted and closed-minded. Do not be this way.

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When you lead with your eyes closed, it is nothing more than dead leadership walking. Leaders who lead this way think they have the only option for whatever the issue is. They are unwilling to flip the switch and see what is going on around them.

We live a unique, ever-changing world. However, we can only define our leadership by knowing what the variables are and being able to see all around us. If we continue to lead small and narrow, we will always lead cramped up.

Knowing our surroundings, knowing the people around you enables you to lead more efficiently, and once you begin to lead that way, your leadership world, for some reason, begins to breathe. No more uptight, stuffy, cramped… I need a leadership humidifier.

Those who lead with their eyes closed, lead a lie only they believe. Closed-eyed leaders hide their faces, afraid to see past their eyelids and stay mentally locked up. Their leadership always cast a shadow, “throwing shade.” Please prove to others that there is more to you.

For those leaders who do lead with their eyes open, thank you. Your “openness” allows others to thrive and shine. Reality is no longer a wanting fantasy. Others become more than they are because you lead with your eyes wide open.

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2019 J Clay Norton

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Please DO NOT Have Leadership Amnesia…

How many times do we come across those who are in leadership positions, and we ask the question, “Did they forget where they came from?”

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Well, many do, and it is unfortunate. Many leaders not only forget where they came from, but they also forget what it is like to follow.

With all of that said, how do we make sure we do not have leadership amnesia?

Leadership should be seen on both a horizontal and vertical plane. The horizontal plane represents the relationships with others, and the vertical plane represents where you are in your leadership life.

Key thoughts horizontally…

  • Horizontally is where we have the capability of wrapping our arms around others and including them.
  • When we keep our arms to our sides and hands in our pockets, others see you only vertically, not open to others.
  • Being able and wanting to include allows others to see that our leadership is more than about them.

Key thoughts vertically…

  • Wanting to move higher and being ambitious is not bad.
  • Always being vertical makes it about you. The higher you climb, the safer you feel?
  • Staying vertical for the wrong reasons allows others to believe you look down on them.
  • If we are always looking up, we forget to see where we came from. We should only look down to remember.

If we forget where we came from, or forget why we lead, I believe we will ultimately be forgotten ourselves. Each person you lead makes it possible for you to be in that leadership position. Think about your own leadership for a moment. How much time do you spend on each plane? The best way to fight amnesia is by remembering.

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2019 J Clay Norton

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Avoiding A Leadership Decline…

Why is it that many times a leader starts out providing excellent leadership and then over time, people begin to wonder what happens? Well, I have a lot of thoughts for that, but we can save that for another blog topic.

Unfortunately, it happens. I believe a leadership decline happens when leaders start thinking about themselves more than others. The focus of arrogance instead of serving corrupts not only the leader but others as well to the point that no one has any pleasure in being associated with the leadership provided.

Leaders who begin to decline harden their hearts toward others who oppose or challenge the norm. They become cold in their relationships and provide a horrible example to follow. Being “right” about something is different than “having” to be right.

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So… how do we avoid being a leader who flirts with the slippery slope of decline?

Treat your leadership seriously

Nothing taints good leadership quicker than letting the poison of weak leadership continue to manifest itself. Many leaders make the joke, “fake it until you make it.” I do not want to lead or ever be led by a leader with this mentality towards leadership. My belief in what leadership is and should be is much more serious than “faking it.” Leadership is serious; it affects the lives of others.

Maintain sound leadership

What is sound leadership? Sound leadership is doing what is right by and for others for the greater good of the organization. Sound leadership is the process of building up, not tearing down. Leaders should never compromise the true meaning of why to lead.

Walk closely to other good leaders

Now this point could make you think a while.  How do you know if you are walking with a good leader? I would say, deep down, you know. A good question to ask, “Are they for others or themselves?” Look at the decisions a leader makes when the spotlight is not on them. This will tell a lot.

Be open to having a growth mindset.

Yes, you can still hold true to your values. Yes, you can still stand-firm on issues that are blatantly right from wrong. But not being open to suggestions is different. There is a great danger in leaders who stop hearing the voice of others because they only want to listen to what they say themselves.

As leaders, we stand in a position of influence, and you must hold yourself accountable in order not to let your leadership decline. If your leadership declines, you run the risk of alienating yourself to the point that no one will care what your leadership is or stands for because they have lost all respect for you, the leader.

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2019 J Clay Norton

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