Want to have stronger relationships? Empower!

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Did you realize that teachers can be possessive?  I know I have been!

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

As someone who teaches in a “student-centered” classroom, I am expected to empower the students to take the lead and to direct the class.  I’ll admit that this has been a struggle for me at times.  Ok, a lot of the time!

Part of the reason for this is the need to meet conflicting interests.  The desires of my students don’t always line up with the mandates from my employer.  Further, I take my responsibilities very seriously, and I have been concerned that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish my own tasks if I take the time needed to allow students more directive control.

However, my attitude is changing.  In the last 18 months, as I’ve been learning more about leadership and developing leaders, I have started to look at my classroom less as a learning environment and more as a leadership incubator.  While I have always sought to empower my students to continue learning and growing after they’ve completed the course, now I am taking a bigger picture view of life after the classroom.

Of course, I am still focused on delivering content and providing opportunities for my students to grow in their communication skills.  However, this shift in perspective has made it possible for me to empower my students in ways I never did before.

In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell says:

“Leading well is not about enriching yourself – it’s about empowering others.”

He then lists three reasons people don’t empower others: a desire for job security, resistance to change, and lack of self-worth.  For me, I think it was a combination of all three that prevented me from empowering my students more.

What I have found, however, is that people will rise to your expectations, and even when they don’t, good management of the situation can create a powerful learning experience for everyone involved.  In the end, it is well worth taking a little extra time to empower the people around me, for their own good and for mine!

In what areas are you still holding on to control?  Who do you need to empower today?

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