A couple of years ago when I first began with practical teaching, I entered a grade 12 A classroom with much self-confidence and “fire” that I was there to convert the heathens to be followers of Christ. I had good intentions to change the world, to lead my learners to discover their God-given purpose, and to see them living passionately for Jesus because of my own joyful experiences.
I walked about in the classroom moving from desk to desk, asking each learner what occupation they wanted to enrol in after completing matric. Mind you this is a grade 12 A class which I was later told is the most important consisting of learners who gives the school its good reputation. Some co-operated in the activity but most were entirely bored while some were sarcastic saying they wanted to be taxi drivers.
The purpose of going to the class was to invigilate so I pretty much had nothing to do with them. To make the experience exciting I decided to share some spiritual insight I had just read from a book. My intentions were good; but immaturity and inexperience prevented me from getting the message across that when they didn’t co-operate I started forcefully telling them that they need God. I was also driven by the traditional method of teaching “The banking system” which sees the teacher as the only expert in knowledge while the learners were just recipients. Honestly, back in my head nobody knew about God more than I did and what better way to share it with “helpless” children who I could dominate as their teacher. I was also driven by power- that finally I have the power to control and not be controlled.
While busy with my profound lecture of how the learners needed God, they started saying “Agg just shut up man!” I was so shocked! Who says that to their teacher! I felt hot flushes on my face and was extremely angry that I demanded complete silence until the period was over. They kept talking anyway, disregarding my presence. What a bad day that was!!
When I got home I realised that I was at fault, the learners had only returned the same treatment I gave them. I began seeking wisdom on how I could have authority as a teacher without making my learners feel small. Since then I began reading about Jesus in the Bible and saw how much authority he had and earnestly prayed to walk in his example. I bought books, I asked for advice, I also looked for videos on you tube on how to be a good teacher. The first thing I realised was that if I wanted to be a good leader I had to take responsibility for my mistakes. So although it was difficult to humble myself before the learners and admit that I was wrong for the way I treated them, it had to be done. This is a memory I carry with me when I consider leadership roles; that leadership cannot be by force but by co-operation and genuine love for my followers.
Now, I would love to share the attributes of leadership that I read from one of Napoleon Hill’s books. If you are a leader in any sphere of your life( A husband to a wife, parents to their children, teachers to their learners, CEO’s to their employees, pastors to their staff, et cetera) this is for you!
ATTRIBUTES OF LEADERSHIP
1) UNWAVERING COURAGE based upon one’s knowledge of self and occupation. No follower wishes to be dominated by a leader who lacks self-confidence and courage. No intelligent follower will be dominated by such a leader for very long.
2) SELF-CONTROL. People who cannot control themselves can never control others. Self-control sets a mighty example for one’s followers, which the more intelligent will emulate.
3) A KEEN SENSE OF JUSTICE. Without a sense of fairness and justice, no leader can command and retain the respect of his or her followers
4) SYMPATHY AND UNDERSTANDING. Successful leaders must be in sympathy with their followers. Moreover they must understand them and their problems.
5) DEFINITENESS OF DECISION. People who waver in decisions show that they are not sure of themselves. They cannot lead others successfully.
6) DEFINITENESS OF PLANS. The successful leader must plan the work and work the plan. A leader who moves by guess work without practical, definite plans is comparable to a ship without a rudder. Sooner or later it will land on the rocks.
7) THE HABIT OF DOING MORE THAN PAID FOR. One of the penalties of leadership is the necessity of willingness, upon the part of the leaders, to do more than they require of their followers.
8) A PLEASING PERSONALITY. No slovenly, careless person can be a successful leader. Leadership calls for respect. Followers will not respect leaders who do not score highly on all factors of a pleasing personality.
9) WILLINGNESS TO ASSUME FULL RESPONSIBILITY. Successful leaders must be willing to assume responsibility for the mistakes and shortcomings of their followers. If they try to shift this responsibility, they will not remain leaders. If followers make mistakes and become incompetent, it is the leader who has failed.
10) COOPERATION. Successful leaders must understand and apply the principle of cooperative effort and be able to induce followers to do the same. Leadership calls for power, and power calls for cooperation.