I am sure that many of you have heard of John Maxwell; a best-selling author and leadership coach. I had heard phrases such as ‘level 5 leadership’ at various events and in various conversations and hadn’t really given it much more thought. Recently I watched the video below and it got me thinking about how the messages within could be applicable not just to those in responsibility or ‘leadership’ positions but in actual fact could have a significant impact on our day-to-day dealings with students as we try to facilitate and influence their learning.
John Maxwell describes the five levels of leadership as:
Position – people follow you because they have to
Permission – people follow you because they want to
Production – people follow you because of what you’ve done for the organisation
People development – people follow you because of what you have done for them
Pinnacle – people follow you because of who you are and who you represent
Thinking about these aspects made me reflect upon the various student teacher interactions that I have experienced and observed over the years. For a long time I had wondered about what the secret ingredient was that the well established member of staff had and used to such great effect.
Why was it that the students were eating out of their hand and frequently biting mine?
For fun: try clicking here, thinking of a teacher that has ‘got it and the students will do anything for them‘ and see how many characteristics you can identify from the list in that person.
Reflecting on the video has brought it sharply into context – it is about the relationship that students have with those teachers as leaders. Our most effective teachers are successful because of how they enhance and develop the lives of the students that they work with. Sometimes this doesn’t happen consistently with every class, even for the most effective teacher but they have the patience, resilience and available toolkit to try to get the students that they are working with to recognise the power for good that an effective relationship with that teacher could have for the student.
Maxwell makes a really valid point – the leadership relationship is in a constant state of flux as relationships are created and cultivated. The early stages of a teacher working with a new group of students can be based upon Level 1 leadership; the position of the teacher. The most effective teachers move swiftly through this early relationship stage and very quickly get to a point where students recognise the value that the teacher is adding to their lives via education. Once a teacher is able to sustain this for a period of time then the reputation is built:
Older student: “Who have you got for Science this year?”
Younger student “Mrs Petrochemical for Chemistry, Mr Chromosome for Biology and Dr Force for Physics…”
Older student: “You’ll be alright with them – you learn loads and they help you to do really well”
Once a teacher is recognised by the students as a person that can help them progress further the battle is almost won. Many of these teachers are naturally great at leadership without realising it – their vocation has allowed them (often with significant time & effort) to become recognised as level 4 or 5 leaders (without being labelled as such) because of their dedication to helping students learn and achieve.
I wonder if we were to support all our teachers to develop as leaders in their classroom what the impact on learning and student lives could be?
If you want to develop your own leadership capacity it might be worth having a look at: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership