What Are You Building?

I met a teacher this summer who had just finished his first year working at a charter school after serving in the public school system for 27 years. When he took the job, he was told the school was there to “build community.”

His class covered two grade levels, and he shared the responsibilities with a brand new teacher who had just graduated from school herself. So, he not only had students to teach, but a fellow teacher to lead as well.

He told me with all of his teaching experience he had the mechanics of the job down pat – following a curriculum, maintaining classroom discipline, staying on schedule, testing, grading, and dealing with parents and administrators. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t struggle.

You see, he said it took him over half-a-year to begin to understand what “building community” was all about. He initially thought of it as a slogan and didn’t give it much thought. He was focused on “teaching the facts, and achieving the test scores.” Only later did he begin to realize that “building community” was the real reason for him to go to work … influencing the hearts, minds, and behaviors of his students to become outstanding citizens. (Interestingly, his inexperienced co-teacher seemed to grasp this idea much quicker than he did!)

What Does This Mean for Leaders?

Being able to perform a job function only means that the mechanics are being done. It doesn’t mean that the larger goal of the organization is being met.

Leaders must see the performance of work in a larger context – that of achievement. And, to get there, they must first decide what it is that they are building? To what end are they striving? What’s the real goal? The answer to those questions are the essence of “vision,” and it’s why it’s so important.

People follow vision. So get on board. Look beyond the task, and begin to lead. Defining what you’re building will guide you to great places.

– Jerry Strom

Twitter: @JerryRStrom. For more information about our leadership and team development programs, please visit http://www.JerryStrom.com . Join the mailing list to receive new articles as they are published. This article is based on research conducted for the *’The Relationships Report: The Linkage between Leadership and Relationships,’ by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find ‘How Leaders Build Relationships at Work’ at http://www.jerrystrom.com/research/js_relationships.html short insights on Twitter at #RelationshipsRPT

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