Disney's Leadership book: Creating Magic, since we were at "The Happiest Place on Earth". One of the first "nuggets" that I got from Lee Cockerell was; to look for lessons in leadership; EVERYWHERE. So that is what I decided to do this weekend. Observe through a leadership lens. And boy, I was not disappointed! There were leadership lessons flying left and right. I couldn't wait to get home to write a blog post entitled: Dance, Disney and Drama: Lessons in Leadership! I had soooo much material!
Imagine my surprise when my daughter decided to do some reflection as we took our final walk to the parking lot. "Well, the season is over. It was fun, it was hard...but it was a learning experience." Wait...what? My 12 year old daughter just floored me! We then had a fantastic discussion (led by her) about being a team member, humility, friendship, leadership, integrity, failing forward and reflection...all of my observations, what I was going to write about...came out of her mouth! So I will share some of these "learning experiences" here and how they relate to leadership.
My daughter dances with a few different groups, but the one that we have had most discussions about was a "trio". This trio really struggled this year.
1) Teamwork can be hard, but it is vital.
Right before they were about to perform, one of the trio kept repeating "We are going to do terrible, I don't even want to try." Hello...fixed mindset! Anyway, this caused Leslie to repeat this to me, over and over again...right until they went on stage. Needless to say, the team did not perform at their best and fingers started pointing. The teacher did not help the situation, in fact, she fueled it. (More on that later).
"I learned that in a team, we need to be positive and not blame each other. It is a team effort. When "Sarah" kept telling us how bad we were going to do, it made me feel bad and I didn't do my best."
We discussed, that it is also important for team members to be encouraging and build each other up. Unfortunately, this was not shown through the leadership (teacher).
Leadership Lesson: Lead by example. A successful leader needs to model being part of the team. He/She needs to monitor the climate of the team and help team members to work through the inevitable bumps in the road.
2) Encourage and grow your people.
about you, it's all about me!"The whole year, rather than work with the girls to fix or improve, she would take parts away and blame them for not "sticking it". She would make changes from week to week and even changed a turn, right before they walked on stage.
So, of course...there were many areas of the dance that didn't go right. The girls walked off the stage defeated and were met with criticism and finger pointing from their "leader". They were told that they were a "hot mess" and proceeded to hear the laundry list of everything they did wrong. My daughter took this particularly hard and I walked her away from the public shaming.
Leslie started to play the "blame game" to me and blame her mistakes on her team mates. She said the last minute change was because they could not do something that she could do.
In our parking lot discussion, she reflected: "I learned that in a team you have to be patient and kind. Not everyone can do the same things, at the same time. And not everyone will want to do what you want to do." I told her that this is about communication, patience and compromise.
At this point in our discussion, I asked my daughter if a strong leader would have helped. Her answer was "Yes. We shouldn't have changes made on us at the last minute and be blamed for them and the mistakes. Also, we heard other teams (from her studio) getting their pep talks, and they were positive and encouraging and we got...She never has anything good to say to us, only talks about how we mess up."
Leadership lesson: Have faith in your team and lead. An effective leader doesn't point fingers or place blame. An effective leader accepts responsibility and works with the team to make changes for success. A leader does what is best for all, not just to promote him/herself. Encouragement and support work better than blame and shame.
3) Integrity is everything.
I have been privy to many "discussions" between these group members. To me, it sounded like a lot of "bad mouthing" of whichever girl didn't happen to be around. I always took these times to talk to the girls about not talking negatively about others, building each other up...all that good stuff. But here is what I found interesting. I heard similar discussions among the moms (not just the teacher)! Adults, talking about the children. Pointing fingers!
I lost a lot of respect when I saw that the adults were modeling this behavior. I can not look at them the same. Of course the girls are acting the same way.
I had my own experience with a leader, who went around and talked behind staff's backs to each other. Ours was an extremely tight knit group and word of that behavior traveled fast. Integrity for that leader was lost along with trust and staff morale. Loss of trust and integrity is really hard to come back from.
a team can grow. Accentuate the positives but support and help improve on any struggles. Model the behavior you expect from your team, and watch your words. People are always watching, listening and learning from you and about you.
There is much, much more, but I am physically and mentally exhausted from this long weekend. Who would have thought, all this from a weekend of Dance, Disneyland and Drama?
Mother, teacher, TOSA, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.