And A Little Child Shall Lead Them

When my son was a fourth-grader, he came home one day and announced he had a new student leader helping his teacher.

“Did your old teacher assistant leave?” I asked.

“No,” he replied, “Mrs. Greer is still there.”

“What’s your new student leader’s name?” I asked.

Without looking up from kicking his soccer ball, he responded matter-of-factly: “Tommy.”

I instantly knew this was weird. Fourth-graders don’t refer to their teachers by their first names. Tenth-graders use teachers’ first names as an act of rebellion; twelfth-graders do it to sound grown up and cool. But most fourth-graders are not that interested in being rebellious or cool.

As it turned out, Tommy was a sixth-grader and a part of a cross-age education effort to let older students tutor younger students. The concept was that elementary students often respond better to older peers than to a teacher, and placing teaching responsibility on the older students increased their growth as well.

A few months into my son’s experience, I asked how he and Tommy were doing.

“He’s not a student leader anymore,” he replied. I decided to keep my mouth closed to see if he would fill me in. He continued, “Tommy thought he knew more about math than me. And when I was getting answers faster than he did, he got really mad.  He started putting me down.  Mrs. Greer heard him and took his job away from him.”

Out of nowhere came the unexpected wisdom only a child can render:  “Real student leaders don’t put people down.”

Bill Treasurer’s new book, Leaders Open Doors, is grounded in the wisdom of his young son’s school experience.  Like my son, such lessons can be profound and insightful.  In Bill’s case the lesson from his son will create an unexpected shift in your paradigms reframing what you thought you knew about leadership.  It unfolds a refreshingly new underpinning and scaffolding for the contemporary practice of leadership. 

Today’s followers have elevated their intolerance for leaders who “put people down” instead of lifting them up.  They gravitate instead toward leaders who proactively and joyfully open doors for all the people they lead.  Buy this great book to learn much more.

About Chip&John

Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson are customer loyalty consultants and the authors of several best-selling books. Their newest book is "Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do About it."
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