As leaders, one of the toughest things we encounter is resistance to change. We like to do things the way we have always done them.
While this is all well and good, our world is changing and the people we lead bring different perspectives or approaches to the organization. As leaders it is our job to recognize when we need to soften our way of thinking and let ‘the old dog learn a new trick,’ or when we need to continue with what has worked in the past. Leadership then becomes about embracing change that betters us and those we lead while also identifying when change is a detriment to the organization.
This understanding of embracing change is illustrated in one of my favorite movies, “School of Life.” A father and son teach at the same school where the father has been selected as “Teacher Of The Year” for twenty plus years. However, the father passes away. It becomes the son’s, Mark Warner’s, job to carry on the “Warner legacy” at the school.
(See IMDB review here.)
The new school year starts and in walks a young man, “Mr. D,” the replacement for the senior Mr. Warner. Mr. D captures the students’ attention, imagination, and motivation to learn. Yet he does all this in ways that were a bit unorthodox to the other teachers, especially Mark Warner Jr. Mr. Warner hunts for every reason he can to discredit Mr. D’s teaching ability, and find out the “truth” about Mr. D which brings a bunch of laughs.
The truth revealed in the movie is that the subject matter each teacher taught was not the determining factor in capturing a student’s attention and motivation to learn. It was how they taught. Mr. D’s teaching did not follow the standard “rules” or code on how teachers were expected to act, and it was a refreshing change to the students.
In the end, Mr. Warner learns to embrace change and adopt some of Mr. D’s teaching habits. He becomes a better teacher as he steps outside traditional ways of engaging and exciting his students to learn and grow.
As leaders it can be easy to be a “Mr. Warner.”
Our determination to do it the way we think is best actually reveals a stubbornness to do things our way only.
The Bible gives a great example of this with Balaam, found in Numbers chapter 22.
Here the Midianites, some of the enemies of Israel, ask the prophet Balaam to come pray for a lot of money. Balaam agrees, and embarks on the journey. God is angry with Balaam, and an angel of the Lord is sent as an adversary to him. Three times Balaam tries to go his own way, but his donkey can see the angel of the Lord standing in front of them ready to strike them down and always wants to turn to go another way.. Each time this happens, Balaam lashes out at the donkey until the third time when the donkey speaks to Balaam! God then opens Balaam’s eyes, and he realizes how wrong he was in his stubbornness.
When you have time, check out the story of Balaam in Numbers 22 and “The School of Life” (click here to see in Amazon Prime.)
If you want to become a better leader and be respected by those you are leading, learn to embrace change and realize when your stubbornness is getting in the way of progress.
By Русский: «Валаам и ангел». Художник Густав Йегер. – http://www.duesseldorfer-auktionshaus.planetactive.com/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=652778