A few months back, I organized an old girls alumni meet of my school. As I went about planning and organizing the meet, I talked to many old friends, contacting them , talking to them after two to three decades ! We were so excited and could barely stop talking after the initial squeals of delight. We reminisced about our naughty childhood days, the mischiefs, the plays , the examination, gossips and what not. But there was one particular person who came up in my conversations with almost everybody. Mrs Nadkarni - our class teacher of Standard 5.
What was it about her that all of us remembered her even after 30 years ? As I thought about it, it was amazing to relate it with my corporate work.
- Empathy : Unlike other teachers, she could sense how each of her students were feeling and would make it a point to talk to the student who needed her attention after the class was over. All of us confided our joys, sorrows and innermost secrets to her. She remembered our birthdays and we got a book from her every year as a birthday gift. I still have these treasures in my library. We coveted to be near her, learn from her. And our favourite subjects were the ones which she taught us. As leaders, do we empathize with our team ? Do we notice their expressions when they come to office in the morning or we are drowned in our huge pile of emails and deadlines ?
- Mentoring : She was great mentor. If we were stuck with a difficult maths problem, she would never scold us. Instead, she took pains to explain the aspect of the problem to us clearly , as many times as needed. She made the most talkative girl of the class as the monitor. She made us organize birthday parties, year end bashes and elocution competitions. While doing these, we learnt about teaming, initiative,participation and definitely leadership. How much have you planned and taken care about the growth of your subordinates ? Great leaders are multipliers of talent. And the multiplication happens with solid mentoring.
- Trust and belief : During our annual examination, all the other classes had invigilators to see that the students are writing honestly and without talking to each other. Her class was the only exception. She had so much of trust on her students that she had a standing instruction not to put any invigilators. Due to this, none of her students broke her trust. Trust is something which has to be earned. A leader should be full of integrity, she should walk the talk, be passionate and fair.
The above three things seem simple, but implementing them at the workplace work wonders.
And , if you can do so successfully, one day the people around you will remember you just like we remembered our dear Mrs. Nadkarni.