Peter Drucker, an author on organizational leadership, stated this about leadership, “The ultimate task is unmistakable: to lift all of those in the organization to higher heights. How do you influence people, not push people around because you have power?”
True leaders lift others up. For me, there are no more poignant examples of this than Scott Bibler and Brian Hooker. As I stood in a long line in the Rochester High School gymnasium waiting to pay my respects to Coach Hooker, I overheard a group of RHS alumni telling stories about their time with Coach Hooker. Some spoke of time in class, some spoke of time on the athletic field, and some even spoke of a side conversation or two he had had with them about decision making. A couple of years ago, I was the alum standing in a viewing line with my classmates talking about how Coach Bibler did all of these same things for us. Brian and Scott both made it a point to say hello, shake your hand, and talk to you. It was hard to walk away from a conversation with either of them without feeling uplifted.
The challenge in education is to develop these same skills in our students. The mission at TVSC is that we are committed to student success through the development of character, leadership, and literacy. How can we grow servant leaders who will go out into the world and impact others?
At Tippecanoe Valley, we have many great examples of groups who work as servant leaders. A few examples include the TVMS student council working the Thanksgiving and Christmas food pantry at Mary and Jerry’s Helping Hands, TVHS PEERS providing mentor support to middle school students, and elementary students ringing the bell to raise money for the Salvation Army. This list could go on for pages, given the time.
How can we grow leadership skills in all of our students, even if they are not in these leadership groups mentioned above? I believe that we have to provide great role models for kids. When adults – whether it be coaches, teachers, cooks, custodians, etc. – model servant leadership, others see it and learn from the example. We have to take every opportunity to teach students to serve others and lift others up, especially in a world where this is not always the norm.
At TVMS, we make a daily effort to display positive leadership traits for students. We start each day with a reading on good character and leadership from Project Wisdom. We model our Viking Way in all areas of school: be respectful, responsible, and ready. We teach a character and leadership education curriculum called Life Skills through health class. While these examples are of specific programs, we adults look to model this attitude daily, too.
I also believe strongly that sports develop leaders. Learning the skills to work with a team, showing sportsmanship, working hard to improve, knowing your role, and dealing with adversity are all critical to developing good character and becoming a leader. These skills are drastically more critical to a student’s future success than winning and losing an event. Do you lift people up on your team? Do you give credit to the team? Is the success of the team more important than your personal success? These are all characteristics of a leader.
We all have examples in our own lives of people like Brian and Scott who modeled great character and leadership. The challenge for all of us is to continue the legacy of those folks who impacted us, to pay it forward, by leading and lifting up others.