Some years ago, I was hired to be a military leadership instructor for Air University. This job was a challenge. In addition to learning and understanding a massive amount of material, an instructor needs to understand how to effectively deliver the material to students. While I was able to have a deep understanding of the material, I burned a lot of energy each day presenting it to a group of students. I personally enjoyed learning ‘big concepts’, but understood that I needed to teach “details” so that my students could understand the larger picture. I also understood that if I wanted to be an effective teacher, students must feel valued. I knew if my students could “feel” I valued them, I could reach optimal results.
I was fortunate, a highly respected instructor, pulled me to the side early in my training. She told me I needed to start the course with a very firm demeanor and later “lighten up.” She warned me that if I didn’t start firmly, there would be students who would disrupt my classroom the entire 6 weeks of the course. At the time, I wasn’t sure if this was good advice. Nevertheless, I tried it; I started my classes being very strict. I quickly corrected disrespectful students who would fall out of line.
The approach worked really well, a year or so later when we got a new instructor, I pulled her aside to give her the same advice I was given. She didn’t listen; she started her classes being “too nice” and was ultimately regarded as a pushover. After teaching a few classes and being brought to tears by unruly students, she decided to take the advice we had given her. It took her a few months to adapt to this new style, but life in the classroom became a lot easier.
The military trained me to teach, yet my experiences taught me to be a leader. If you are having some trouble leading your team, you should ask yourself if you are being too nice.
Until Next Time,
The Female Defender, CEO