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Why we need to teach what we need to learn the most in our CSR strategy with our employees!

" You want us to do what?" coupled with the look of complete fear and followed by the declaration "She has to be kidding!" is typical within the first two minutes of my workshops. And it is purposeful.

Someone very wise said " If you cannot explain it to a 8 years old, then you did not understand it yourself". And personally I have taken this to heart and developed my own 2.0 version. Everything I need to learn, I personally go and develop a curriculum to teach the topic to youths. It is how I learn and grow and I have now built an entire Foundation around this core value.

Every leadership and/or soft skills training I do has a field component that is performed on the same day or within 48 hours of my workshop which requires the adults trained to transfer what they just learned to a classes of 9-12 year olds.

Why?

  1. When you teach you are tattooing your brain with the information i.e. you learn twice and you learn deeper
  2. If you cannot take complicated concepts apart and simplify them so a 9-12 year old can understand it, then you yourself did not understand the material in the first instance
  3. Public speaking is right behind death as our greatest fears. When I put my adults in front of a classroom of youths there is a deep sense of responsibility and fright. But what this experience does is the following:
  • It forces adults to learn how to connect. And the authentic faces of the youths show them very clearly how they are doing as connectors.
  • Adults have to get uncomfortable and re-aquaint themselves with 9-12 year old within them and this allows them to find a joyful center they forgot existed.
  • Adults are reminded we are all imperfect and as they mistake their way through teaching to their very curious forgiving audience. They also learn fast that by simply exhaling, moving forward and experimenting together with their audience and not taking themselves too seriously are ideal ingredients for making a huge impression on young minds.

Recently I held a session on "Awakening from your Creative Coma" and "Discovering your Superpowers" with some of the largest multinationals in the UAE i.e. DP World, DLA Piper, Nestle and Al Futtaim Carillion. The three hours of training in the morning was followed with three hours of student teaching with (9-12 year old) students from 6 GEMS Schools, Rajgiri and Al Diyafah. Besides the core material, technical skills were delivered such as Mind Mapping, how to hold a full fledged brain storming session etc.

Here is a sampling of how the adults felt after the intervention:

" I had no idea I had it in me to teach!"

" I learned just as much as I taught!"

" I really feel great after doing this!"

" I had no idea it was so simply to impact mindsets of youths!"

" I am standing a little taller myself as a leader!"

And the students felt equally thrilled exclaiming in their feedback letters. Here is a sample:

"Learnt to work with teammates and within time limits which really kicked me out of my lazy unproductive behavior. I learnt more about myself and my friends. I also learnt that brainstorming ROCKS…"

I do have to admit I teach leadership and soft skills based on pure intuition with no degrees. I am obviously curious by nature and read extensively just about everything in every field and then put them all into the same pot. However, rest assured there is some science behind the way I run my workshops.

Fear just happens to be a survival instinct. It forces your reflex action to deal with threats and dangers. So throwing my adults over the cliff forcing them to build wings on the way down i.e. transferring skills to youth that they just learnt, instinctively pressures them to fly. And I have to tell you they take my breath away and soar every time.

Fear is also the stepping stone to infinite possibility. It is human nature that the stories we share are those associated with overcoming the unknown or a challenge. And I have to say that the majority of our customers come to us after hearing about the experience from a former participant. I can imagine the conversation starting with " You would not believe what I just did!" and that warms my heart.

And off course fear builds confidence, it can catapult you into action and without it some might argue you will not succeed brilliantly.

And last and most importantly, we all know great leaders are all teachers. Just look around at what the Oprahs, Bransons, Buffetts and Gates of the world spend most of their time doing. The great leaders among us all acknowledge and honor their superpowers by teaching in their own ways. They understand their obligation to spill over everything they know into the Universe. And it is for this reason teaching continues to be the only way to touch the future. It ensures there are footprints for future generations that you were once here. And who does not want that?

The Growing Leaders Foundation is a Social Enterprise that trains and mobilizes corporate employees in leadership and soft skills (through their HR and CSR departments) ensuring and measuring corporate social responsibility and shared values are impactful in the community where we live and work. We do this in a joyful way that reconnects us all to the great leader we were all born to be. You can learn more about the foundation at: http://www.growingleadersfoundation.com

Article written by Sallyann Della Casa/Founder@growingleadersfoundation.com

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