In the classroom there is a fine line between authoritative classroom management and respectful classroom management. Growing up, we just did what the teacher said. Mostly because we knew, if we dared to get in trouble or disrespect the teacher, then when we arrived home, our parents would lay into us about our behavior. It is just the way it was back then. I suppose there were kids whose parents did not do this – but it was far and few between. It worked for me, but I knew in my heart there had to be a different way. A way that would attract more students to keep the peace in the classroom.
It isn’t just the classroom where leadership is an issue. The same thing happens in corporate America, on school sports teams, in a family, and even in a church. Authority in the past looked a lot more like a dictatorship than servant leadership. Type A personalities ruled the board room. Things went exactly how the top dude (there weren’t a lot of dudettes back then) said they would go. No questions asked. Just do what they tell you.
Today, there are ways to manage people – in and outside of the classroom – with respect. Respect is a powerful tool. One that earns you the right to be a leader. Yet your leadership looks a lot more like an equal, than it does like a dictator. This great idea for management came from a pretty cool guy. Back in the day he was known as Jesus.
He had a pretty new way to manage people, and most people found him odd and a little crazy for even trying it. Somehow it worked, and for centuries people have been using this approach with much success.
While the kings back in Jesus’ time led as dictators, Jesus came in with a very different tone. He ate dinner with tax collectors, touched the lepers, spoke to women (and even to some who were prostitutes), and hand-picked disciples who were fishermen for goodness sake! He delegated many tasks to his team – in fact these tasks looked a lot like the things that Jesus did. He allowed them to heal the sick, feed the poor, and preach the Good News. Of course with all these tasks he paid them no money whatsoever! What an amazing job (wink wink)! He did however have one great benefit: eternal life with Jesus in heaven. You’d have to be crazy to pass up a job offer like this: no pay, one benefit, and drop everything to do so! Yet somehow Jesus sold this idea to many, and those disciples did amazing things in order to work for Jesus.
Jesus’ new management concept and choices for his top staff astonished many, and quite honestly made his humanity even more fragile because people doubted his divinity. Seeing Jesus as God was not easy for people, because he was so much like them!
Strong leadership is not about dictating or barking orders. It is about meeting your team or your classroom or your family or your church or whoever you are leading – where they are and guiding them to their destination (which happens to be the leader’s goal). Showing them trust, compassion, and love the entire way. Jesus did this, and got his feet dirty doing so. And that leads me to one of the most important parts of this strategy – showing your team that you are not afraid to do exactly what you are asking them to do. Which makes you just as desperate to serve others, as you are to lead them.