As a leader, you’re teaching people…but it’s not what you think. —Scott Welle
Here’s the story from the book, OUTPERFORM THE NORM for Leaders: A Guide to Inspiring Peak Performance in an Ever-Changing World. Enjoy!
“Me and my brother—”
My Mom would politely interrupt. “Scotty, when you’re starting a sentence, it’s supposed to be, ‘My brother and I…’”
For the bulk of my childhood, my mother was a high school English teacher. It drove me crazy when she’d correct me, but she always said that she only did it to make me better. It took me many years to understand that my Mom’s job—teaching English—was not really what she was teaching.
A little over two years ago, she passed away from cancer. When you come from small-town Albany, MN, population 1701, everyone shows up to pay their respects at funerals.
One of the things that struck me about that day were the number of her former students in attendance. Before, and after, the funeral, all of them had a nice thing to say about Mom. She was the type of person that didn’t have a mean bone in her body.
One former student walked up to me and said, “Your Mom taught me how to be a good person.”
Another one, grinning from ear-to-ear, offered, “She taught me how to stay positive…and to always smile!”
Yet, another student claimed, “She taught me that it’s okay to not know the answer; that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.”
Of course, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “Huh? I thought my Mom’s job was to teach ENGLISH? Why is no one talking about being taught proper grammar and sentence structure?”
Then it dawned on me—my Mom wasn’t teaching these students English. She was teaching them valuable, memorable life skills and lessons, disguised as proper grammar and sentence structure.
As a leader, you’re doing the same. You might think you’re teaching tasks and tactics, software and spreadsheets, projects and procedures, but what you’re actually teaching people is something much, much more. Please remember that.