Orrin Woodward is an expert in leadership. He, along with his business partner and co-founder of the-life-business George Guzzardo have developed a passion for leadership development.
I was learning about the concepts of leadership development as I was making my way through college so I had a pretty clear picture of what real leadership was as I was seeking employment. In my first year of teaching I was placed in a charter school in the inner city of Milwaukee. Just like any college graduate, I was excited to start my career and I didn’t care where I taught as long as I could get a job. I went into it with high expectations knowing I finally had the opportunity to work with professionals who cared about what they did, worked hard and supported their co-workers and students. What I didn’t anticipate was the lack of leadership in the building.
The-life-business founder George Guzzardo recently wrote an article referencing the new Orrin Woodward future best seller Leadershift.
Guzzardo says, “leadership includes qualities like vision, integrity, morality, competency, work ethic, hunger, and servant-hood. Those qualities can be applied to our personal lives, professional lives and our businesses. Looking around the world can you recognize the void in leadership? An entrepreneur always looks for a void to fill and there is no greater void than leadership.”
This void was evident when I started working for this school. It is always expected that administration would be the first line of support when it comes to leadership. We have all witnessed in business what happens when leadership is lacking. Accountability suffers, tension and pressure rises, support is minimal, passion is non-existent and laziness sets in. For a first year teacher, the most difficult task is finding a system that works for you as you develop relationships with your students while creating an environment for growth and learning. When leadership from the ‘top down’ doesn’t exist it makes it nearly impossible for your system to work.
This particular school was K-12. I taught physical education and health and was responsible for creating the health curriculum for the elementary branch because there was nothing in place when I was hired. I remember very clearly a situation that happened between myself and the assistant principal. I was entering the door of a 5th grade classroom ready to teach a topic to the students. Because of the demographics of this school, I was constantly challenged with behavioral problems and fighting. After the first couple of weeks I knew what to anticipate each day as I entered the doors of these classrooms. This particular class was extremely difficult and of course I had no support from the classroom teacher. As soon as I came in, the classroom teacher would leave the room and take their prep with little communication about what was going on with the students. Long story short, a fight broke out that day between two boys while I was teaching. I took the necessary steps to try and de-escalate the situation before the fight happened but it was too late. According to their peers, these boys were going at it all morning and it only took an unfamiliar face to give them a reason to ‘finish the job.’ I called down to the office immediately to get help from security and administration to get these boys removed from the classroom. As soon as security came and took them the assistant principal had the nerve to stand in front of my class and announce to the students that I was a first year teacher who didn’t have much experience working with inner city youth. To get information about why the fight broke out, she did a question/answer session with the rest of the students to get details on what happened with the two boys. I was fuming with anger as I stood in the back of the room watching this all unfold. Not once did she communicate with me to get information, she failed to call in the regular classroom teacher to get her perspective on the situation and worse she put this image of me as an ignorant, inexperienced teacher in their heads. Working in a school like that requires thick skin and a very strong demeanor. I was finally starting to develop that with these kids and with just a few words she destroyed my ability to teach these students. I knew they would never give me the attention and respect that was needed to be their teacher and ultimately that’s exactly what happened for the entire semester. Each time I went into that classroom I was fighting for respect and each day I left I was defeated all because of the lack of leadership displayed from that administrator.
I don’t think I need to list all the things that were inappropriate and unprofessional with this situation, it is clearly obvious. And the reason I share this example is because it’s proof that when leadership is lacking, it affects everyone and everything.
Not only do we need leadership back in our schools, our churches, our local businesses and our families, we need leadership back in our country. The leadership in our country is obsolete, that too is obvious. But instead of griping and moaning about what isn’t getting done in the White House, we need to instead point the finger back at ourselves and ask what we are doing to affect change in our own lives.
The title of Orrin Woodward and Oliver DeMille’s new book, Leadershift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand up and Lead gets me excited. George Guzzardo says, “leadership happens when a group of men and women recognize the need for their involvement and take responsibility.”
The-life business is all about taking information that makes a difference in people’s lives and sharing it with others for the purpose of affecting change. Partner that with the TEAM training system which focuses on the development of leaders and you have what I like to call a leadership development empire. Guzzardo states, “There has never been a more important time for a leadership movement.” There is a void in leadership everywhere we look. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. Will you join forces as 10’s of thousands of people carve their piece out of the leadership development empire that will soon change millions of lives?