Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Don't forget what we learnt at the Dead Poets Society...

Following the sad news of the death of Robin Williams, I am posting this lovely piece on leadership lessons from his classic film, Dead Poets Society.
Have you ever seen the DVD Dead Poets’ Society? This film really depicts a young teacher in action who is even younger at heart and thus able to connect with his students on their level. He really understood young men, their desires, battles and struggles to find meaning in life.
Robin Williams, my all-time favourite actor, excelled in his role as Mr Keatings. But what made him so special and what did he do? Consider the following examples of a man thinking out of the box:
  • He asked his students to rip the introduction from their poetry text books
  • He asked them to get on his desk to view the world from a new perspectiveand angle
  • He taught soccer while getting them to think creatively and reciting some prose and purpose
  • He allowed them to march in the quad while listening to the chaotic rhythmbefore finding their true and orderly rhythm which kicked in after a while
  • He instilled a deep love for poetry and the English language
  • He offered them a secret affiliation with the Dead Poets’ Society
  • He experientially invited them to write their own poetry and to do it very well
  • He invited them to live and he broke all the rules and stale traditions at the school
Do we as leaders provide the following to our followers?
  • An opportunity to formulate their own opinions and have them honoured by others and not be YES MEN to our own thinking
  • Opportunities to see the world of work and life from a  new perspective
  • Do we allow our staff to have fun while they work? This will make work enjoyable and something they may like to escape to.
  • Whose rhythm are they dancing to at work? Is it the rhythm and pace provided by a slave driver or the harmoniously offered rhythm provided by an allowing participant leader?
  • Do your staff feels part of the bigger scheme at work or do they see work as something they have to do to survive? Help them find meaning in what they do and you will develop a spirit to be proud of
  • Do you honour their work and input while offering gratitude and acknowledgement for their input?
  • Are you brave enough to invite your staff to break the rules and find better ways of performing their duties? Let them take ownership and allow them to be creative, innovative and daring.
I suppose breaking the well-rehearsed traditions may be a tough one for manyto cope with. I find traditions to be a barrier in the face of change, growth and development. Finding the balance may be the answer.
Our learning: Life has so many lessons and teachings to offer us, if we were only willing to look like we have never looked beforeFind your inspiration in every moment and even in the most trivial of moments, DVDs, music or books.

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