You can’t change anyone but yourself, but you can create the conditions where change is more likely to happen for others. As I work with many educators in leadership positions, I try to focus on going beyond the content of a message, and looking at the delivery of the message.
Yet there are things that I watch that hold people back from helping others moving forward, and I have been guilty of them myself. There is a fine line between being confident and arrogant, and our personalities can hold others back. Below are four things that I try to focus on personally in my own work that I try not to do, and I hope are helpful to others.
- Be condescending. – It is important that people know their areas of expertise, but it is crucial that with one’s knowledge, we do not make others feel insignificant. You might be the smartest person in the room, but if you make everyone else feel dumb around you, no one is moving forward.
- Be dismissive. – Sometimes people have concerns or are struggling with things that you share, whereas you feel total comfort. Ignoring people’s struggles and not addressing them directly, helps shift the focus off of what you are learning, and onto personalities. This is not just the person you are interacting with, but the others watching. You do not have to agree with everyone, but it is imperative that we address what others are feeling.
- Act like the only expert in the room. – It is essential that when people struggle, and others want to be in on the conversation, that you defer often. Tapping into the “room”, is not only beneficial to the “room”, it is beneficial to your own learning. I have learned a ton from people in the workshops that I have delivered by just listening and absorbing their perspectives and ideas.
- Pretend things are black and white. – Learning is a process, and is often not linear, yet sometimes are tones are simply black and white. We have to be comfortable around muddling in the “grey”. One thing that I have been focusing on is when I feel someone disagrees with something I say, is to find our common beliefs and work backwards from there. It is essential that we try to create spaces where people move closer together, not further apart.
Leadership can be a tricky endeavour, yet it is something that we need to constantly reexamine for our own growth, and the forward motion of the others that we serve. Let’s try to ensure that we are helping people move forward by focusing on how our own actions can sometimes hold them back, and the continued pursuits of our own growth.