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The other day I was asked to help out in a kindergarten class because their teacher had called in sick. Although I am used to being at the front of the room leading seminars and trainings, I had immense pleasure sitting in the back as I watched the teacher’s assistant take the lead and instruct the class. It was such a joy to watch him engage with these kids, entertain them, and really listen and guide them. Suddenly, I realized that today’s leaders, administrators, and managers could gain valuable knowledge from this TA All told, everything I know about leadership I learned in a kindergarten class.

Here are the 10 leadership principles that TA embodied and taught me:

1. L-Learn. A leader never stops learning and that includes from their own employees and subordinates. While a leader teaches, the best teachers know that they are students forever. In the current age, something has happened where we are programmed to always be “on” and be the experts. If we constantly come from the place of the “expert mind”, we close off our learning or beginner’s mind, which can be a huge turn off for others. If we use the mind of this expert 24/7, others will not be willing to learn from us, but will exclude us. He’s really not a good leader then, huh?

2. E-Enthusiasm. What I saw of the master’s help for a full eight hours was nothing but enthusiasm for his work. He never quit! And thus, the students clung to his every word and wanted to learn! Can you imagine if your boss, your leader came every day full of energy and enthusiasm? I bet you would want to do your job simply because your boss made your job such a delight. Embody enthusiasm and watch as people trust you and hang on to your every word.

3. A-Appreciation and Attention. The best leaders show attention. They really listen. If something is not clear, they ask for clarity and do so with compassion. This, of course, makes their “followers” feel appreciated, and a good leader lets their employees or followers know that they are appreciated. A good leader is not afraid to provide positive reinforcement and recognition to their people. In fact, they realize that positive reinforcement and attention are necessary for success in their business.

4. D-Diplomacy. When the little students in the kindergarten class were “out of place” or had done something wrong, the teacher’s aide handled the situation with diplomacy and tact. She never looked down on them or judged them. In fact, she “talked things out” with these young men. She discussed with them her impression and what she had noticed, but also gave them the opportunity to share their side of the story. After a concise and empowering discussion, she would make an appropriate decision on how to handle the situation. I think a lot of leaders don’t do this. They are often quick to judge before they know the full story of a situation. Too often their personality clashes with one employee and not the other, so they “take sides” instead of dealing with a negative situation constructively. When a leader really wants to know what happened, which comes from integrity and diplomacy, in my opinion, a situation will be resolved in the best way possible without anyone feeling aggrieved.

5. E-Illustration. I truly believe that a good leader is one who wants to be enlightened. What I mean by this is that the leader is constantly working on personal growth, personal development, education, and personal development. They know that to inspire others they must inspire themselves. Therefore, a good leader enlightens himself by engaging in continuing education to keep himself fresh, open, and motivating for others.

6.R-Respectful. What I have noticed in my years of working in and with companies is that there is a continual lack of respect for employees and staff. The trend, in my opinion, is for leaders and managers to fall in love with the idea that they are in a position of power and therefore feel that they can disrespect their staff. This has always puzzled me because what ends up happening is that the leader ends up without the respect of his teammates, which means that they then lack power. A powerful leader is someone who has respect. So, he gives respect and you will get respect and power!

7. S-Smile! I’ll tell you what, this is what that teacher’s assistant did all day! She smiled even when times got tough with those little five year olds and guess what? The little ones smiled back. There is something truly amazing about a smile. There is an exchange of energy, we feel comforted and joyful when we give one and we feel exactly the same when we receive it. A smiling leader shows a happy leader and followers want to see their leader happy. This happiness is contagious. So smile often, especially when directing :o)

8. H-Honesty. The first thing I have learned since becoming a Certified Trainer is that we are all transparent. When we’re not being honest, EVERYONE knows! Being a leader requires a lot of integrity, honesty, and sincerity. Even when you make a mistake, trust me, people will respect you even more when you own up to it and are honest. So take the path of humility and honesty and you will always win.

9. I-Innovative. A good leader is imaginative and innovative. They love to interact with others and share their ideas. A good leader is not afraid of his ideas and wants others to benefit from them. A good leader always has creative ideas to keep things interesting, light and fun for his followers. More importantly, they are not attached to their innovations as they are willing to build and build with others.

10. P-Passion. I never thought for a moment that the teacher’s assistant I worked with didn’t have a passion for his work. I’ll tell you, he had so much passion that he made me want to become a teacher’s aide for a kindergarten class! Passion is contagious. People follow you and want to be with you when you have passion. Don’t be afraid to show it, let it out! And let it out all the time! In today’s world, I think people are afraid to let their passion flow because they are too concerned with what other people think. But imagine for a moment if none of us had passion, none of us were truly committed to a cause or had a purpose, what a dull and sad world it would be! So tap into that passion, rise up and be a leader and help others find their way.

There you have it, 10 easy-to-follow leadership principles.

One of my favorite sayings the teacher’s aide said all day was, “Great job, kiss your brain!” After the learning you’ve learned from this blog, realize that you already have what it takes to be a phenomenal leader because you were willing to learn new things by reading this article (you’ve already accomplished Step #1: Learn), so pat yourself on the back and KISS YOUR BRAIN!

Yours in joy, life and learning. -Life Coach Laurie

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