As I was driving to work this morning, I listened to an interview with Rebecca Sive, the author of Every Day is Election Day. While Sive focuses specifically on women in elective office, my first thought when I heard the title of the book was, “Yes! This is what I have been saying for years.”
To be precise, what I have been saying for years is that we are all elected to our office (job/role) every day. Every day, the people around us decide whether to listen to us, to follow us, to imitate us or to ignore us. They decide whether to step up and join us in championing what we want to accomplish, or they join the opposition or they just decide to “sit this one out.”
At one time in my career, I was working for an organization in a consulting role. The vice president of sales was the number two person in the organization. But that VP was a poor role model; he didn’t make logical decisions; he didn’t have a vision that he could get people behind; he wasn’t proactive; and he didn’t encourage others in the organization to come to him with ideas or challenges. In short, he didn’t get things done. People started coming to me. Several months later, I was named chief operating officer and was the clear number two in the company.
Why? Because I ran for my office every day. I worked to build trust. I created a vision and worked to get buy-in. I worked hard, never asking anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do myself (and they could see me doing it).
The application to the workplace is so obvious that I started to consider another environment I spend a lot of time in – a classroom. What does it mean to think about every day as election day? Are students voters? You bet!
One piece of advice in Sive’s book is “you can’t care too much.” That reminded me of another true statement I heard from a school district superintendent several years ago: “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Caring builds trust and trust is critical to an environment in which students choose to learn. In fact, students vote (decide) every day, in every class, whether to engage, whether to strive, whether there is anything of value to pay attention to.
Teachers, of course, do have some authority from the outset, just as that vice president of sales did in the company I worked for. But our ability to create a vision, to engage students’ minds and hearts, to inspire trust, and to show how much we care, are what keeps us in the role of teacher, not just somebody at the front of the classroom.
I’m running for election again today. How about you?