Accountability and Service
As I conclude the year with my Leadership Through Service Class, I have been conducting exit interviews with each of my students. I asked them what they have learned, how they would change high school, their reflections on the past four years, but most importantly I asked them how I can improve the class for next year. Students overwhelmingly responded by saying that we should do more service and I should hold them more accountable. I want to dive into both of those suggestions with how service and accountability can change the way teachers and leaders help others grow.
The premise of the Leadership Through Service Class is to use service as a backdrop for helping students grow as leaders. We use John Maxwell’s definition of leadership, which says, “Leadership is influence.” As leaders we are called to influence others in a positive way. That requires us to grow, connect, build character, share our experiences, build a strong inner circle, and help others grow. Each of those requirements were practiced while serving others. During the year, my students helped the elderly with yard clean up. This required our students to put together a plan, connect with someone from a different generation, and to work with one another. When our class went to Feed My Starving Children, they worked together and influenced people who lived on the other side of the world. During out Veterans Day Assembly, the students connected with those who served America. Each student who connected with a veteran learned about character, and experiences that are very different from their own. Serving others helps to build leaders. As I move forward in my quest to build leaders, I know that service will need to be an even bigger part of the class.
Despite what students say, they love to be held accountable and they love when systems are in place to help them succeed. The phrase most repeated in my class is “systems are successes.” Students know it, love it, and use it to plan. When we don’t have an expectation level for students, student performance fails. My students repeatedly told me that in looking back at the course they wanted more knowledge, more engagement and more time serving others. They commented on days where we didn’t seem to be doing much and requested that I push them even harder to write better papers, build better service projects and feed them more knowledge.
I was somewhat shocked to hear what my students had to say about improvements for the class. However, as I reflect back on my own leadership growth, I realize that the teachers I respected the most were the ones that helped me serve others and the ones that raised my standard for learning. The easy teachers were fun, but I learned more from those who challenged me.
Whether you are teaching, coaching, managing, or running a business, keep in mind these two ideas of service and accountability. When we serve others, they grow, but more importantly we grow. And don’t be afraid to hold those around you accountable, they will respect you in the end.