The teachers at Oak Park High School decided to unmask their feelings and show their vulnerable side to their followers. In an act, that is so often hidden, teachers revealed their true emotions and vulnerability to their greatest critics – their students. Teachers, in their own capacity, are leaders. They lead by example on a daily basis and show their students how to act. In this video they took a big risk and unveiled their true emotions. One teacher expressed, “You inspire me to come to work everyday and I wanted to tell you that I appreciate you” (Yam, 2016). These types of statements brought students to tears. It is evident that this vulnerability strengthened the student-teacher relationship and also made a huge impact on all parties involved. Many of these students will remember those words forever. For some, those words may have been a light shining on their true potential. This act of vulnerability enabled students to relate to their teachers (leaders), which ultimately will enhance their follower-ship.
I challenge you all to reflect on what would happen if your leader said those words to you. How would it make you feel? Would those words motivate you to do even better? Would you see your leader as human as opposed to the button-up, professional that you can never relate to? When leaders are vulnerable and transparent they allow their followers to see them as real people and ultimately create a flourishing environment.
This transparency opens up new doors of respect. By being transparent and relatable, leaders are able to reach their followers on a new level. That moment of vulnerability and gratitude may save you many more moments of anxiety, stress and backlash. The students at Oak Park High School must have felt that they could move mountains after receiving such a high praise. I would even say their performance in class must have raised from those words alone.
Bill George states, “Leaders are defined by their values, and values are personal – they cannot be determined by anyone else” (George, 2007, xxxii). If leaders unmask their values and personal side, then followers can better understand and respect their decisions. Just as the teachers of Oak Park High School unveiled their values to their students, leaders, in all capacities, need to do the same. Accepting this level of transparency allows followers to relate to their leaders. If you want your followers to respect you and appreciate your hard work, then you must do the same for them. One step toward doing this is showing that one of your values is your followers. By doing this a positive climate can be created and more can be accomplished. I leave you with this – what could you accomplish if someone told you that you were the reason they came to work every day?
Yam, Kimberly. “Watch Teachers Tell Students Just How Much They Mean To Them In Powerful Video”. Huffington Post. N.p., 2016. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.
George, B. (2007). True-North: Discover your authentic leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.