Chin Up… ?

Most of the time the entries I begin typing do not make it to the public blogsphere. By the time I am halfway through my posts, I either A, lose focus, B, have received sufficient therapeutic release, or C, think they are too negative and unconstructive to be shared. (Which may be the outcome of this post too.) They eventually end up as drafts or in the dumps and forgotten forever.

Disappointment 

Just in the past two days, I have received 5 emails from one of my bosses with a list of to-dos. This may have come at a bad time when there were other pressing matters I had on my mind to settle, and the onslaught of emailing what was required of us to do, but it did not sit well with me.

I thought of what I expected a boss to be, and these are some qualities I want to make sure I meet should I end up taking on roles with higher authority in future.

A mentor who nurtures

A leader is not just someone who delegates or gives directives. It is easier to give instructions than to develop and groom your team – the difference being the former does not require a personal investment or interest, while the latter demands your consideration and your time. You cannot ‘groom’ people under you if you do not first care for them and seek to understand them. But sometimes just a genuine concern for your staff can lift them up and drive them to work heartily.

A leader by example

You may not be a charismatic speaker or a highly-influential head of the pack, but if you lead by example, you gain respect among your team. We always speak fondly of bosses who would grind their teeth with you, take on the excess of the load, or just simply not shirk responsibilities. On the other hand, bosses whose intention is mainly to relief their own responsibilities is hardly deserving of one’s respect. Moreover, a leader cannot lead if you did not experience what your team is going through – you cannot relate to the challenges, and you surely cannot guide the team to greater heights without that shared understanding and support.

I am reaching my limits of annoyance because all I see are directives and forwarded emails. There is no evidence of one supporting the team or understanding the task at hand when all one does is email. Furthermore, if bosses do not experience the dirt for themselves, they can not begin to understand the amount of time and effort the task requires.

A person who thinks with his heart and mind

You need to plan and delegate and plan even more. But as a leader, you need to understand that your team members is your resource and your strength – and you must envision plans with your intellect and your compassion. You must understand that your men needs to be encouraged and supported: One may have the ability, but not the heart to do a task. Similarly, one may have the passion in a certain task but lacks the support and experience to do it well with confidence. You need to string all those multiple complexities together and paint a better picture with it. Delegating irresponsibly without keeping in mind your team’s strengths, interests and welfare, is an act of long-term suicide. If you fail to do that, your team may just feel undervalued and annoyed at your perceived incompetency.

Adopt a positive mindset 

That being said, I am trying very hard to adopt a positive mindset towards the excess trimmings of my work and not be bogged down by other inefficiencies and disappointments. A colleague at work reminded me that when we put things in perspective by constantly reminding ourselves that we work for God and not for man, many other things fall more sensibly into place.

I may not see eye to eye with people I work with or work under, but it does not mean that I challenge every rule I am introduced and grumble at every setback I face. When my bosses throw unreasonable and inconvenient demands at me, one response we can have is to cringe and complain and growl in angst and frustration (which I must admit has been my reaction all along), and another (which may make less sense to some) is to suck it up and do what we were allotted.

I hope that this intense period is a time to build up our resilience – and this period ends soon.

 

The First Does Make A Difference

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Three years ago I met a class of students who over the next two years gave me a whole lot of joy, heartache and angst. They grew frustrated and cynical as they slowly discovered the inefficiencies and handicaps of the system they were a part of. They carried the burdens from home and outside of school into the classroom and struggled with meeting expectations of their parents their teachers and their own. God gave me the huge blessing of seeing them through four years of their education in school in the first four years of my teaching profession, and I cannot describe how grateful I am for being able to be a part of that.

At our cross-country yesterday, a number of them participated in the competitive run representing their classes. I got a pleasant shock as i saw them standing in line during the prize presentation ceremony. They won themselves medals and their participation even won their class the best class in the level – and a trophy.

I think the best part was seeing them also proud of their accomplishments. They even relented and took a photo with me! I guess the best moments of being a teacher are when your own students taste the joy of their own achievements.

The feeling of pride is heightened for me as their form teacher. It is hard to describe but they always say the first form class you have feels different, and it does. The students will always have a special place in your heart. For a second time yesterday, I felt that I might just miss these kids to tears when they leave at the end of the year. :'(