Welcome! Lesson 1 is about changing our traditional perception of leadership. Moving away from project-focus & toward people-focus knowing that, when we focus on relationships & connection, our projects get better!


LESSON 1: The paradigm (shift)

Goals:  

  • Students will understand what a paradigm shift is and how it relates to traditional views of “top down leadership” vs. a model of servant-leadership.
  • Students will understand that leadership is all about relationships.
  • Students will see “switching your thumbs” as a cue to think differently about things and being open to new experiences and ideas throughout the week.

Opening Discussion: Paradigms

Ask: What is a paradigm?
Answer: A typical example or pattern of something; a model.
Say: For this class a Paradigm = Your worldview of something. The way you view the world.

Direct Instruction:

  1. Draw: A right side up triangle on the board and ask students to help you label the triangle in order of hierarchy from top to bottom if the triangle represented a traditional business. (Example: Top would be CEO, then possibly a Vice President, then different levels of managers, and eventually at the bottom it would be the front line employees and/or the customer) This is the way that many people view leadership and business/organizations.
  2. Label this upright triangle “old paradigm”
  3. Say: I want to try something to illustrate a point.
  4. Ask students to put their hands together the normal way they would without thinking about.
  5. Ask students to look down and notice, which thumb is on top (or side by side)

    Question: How many have your left thumb is on top? How many have your right thumb is on top? How many have your thumbs side by side?
    Question: Is one better than another?
    Answer: Of course not!
    Question: When do you think we first started doing this?
    Answer: In the womb.
     
  6. Say: Yes, you started putting your hands together without even thinking about it in the womb and then, once you were born, you kept doing it until it eventually became a…(Answer: HABIT)
  7. Say: Now I would like you to put your hands back together the normal way you would without thinking about it and, without undoing your fingers, I would like you to do something very simple – Switch your thumbs. Wait patiently as audience grumbles and says things to each other and then…
  8. Ask students to describe how that felt. Answers should usually range from weird, uncomfortable, awkward, not normal, etc.
  9. Say: One of the keys to understanding ‘switching your thumbs’ is that if one ‘switches their thumbs’ enough, eventually it forms a new habit.
  10. Explain to students that servant leadership challenges them to “switch their thumbs” and look at leadership in a different way.
  11. Next, draw an upside down triangle and say, “Author James C. Hunter, who created a model called the servant-leadership triangle, says that the most effective leaders turn the triangle upside down, but don’t change any of the positions.” Label the triangle “New Paradigm”.
  12. Ask students who would then be in each position starting at the bottom (CEO) and leading to the top (Front Line Employees & Customers). Explain that it isn’t that the CEO or people with positions of leadership aren’t important because they are very important, it’s just that their job changes from “Do it or else” (Old-Paradigm Triangle) to “I will help you meet your needs so we can all do it better.”
  13. Explain to students that over the past 30 years a lot of research has shown that this type of mindset when it comes to leadership and relationships has proven to be much more effective and beneficial. Many of the most successful companies are built on servant-leadership. 

The Servant Triangle Paradigm Shift:

  1. Ask: What does this look like for our leadership class? How do we flip our leadership “upside down?” How can we switch our thumbs?
  2. Say: The Servant Triangle works from the bottom to the top. It starts with our “WILL.” Our WILL is shaped by two potential equations: the first is ‘Intentions - Actions = Squat’ (I have an idea or hope or belief, but I don’t act on it, so I have not done or created anything). The second equation is ‘Intentions + Actions = Will’ (I believe something and I act on that belief in order to make change. As I do this, I get stronger in my ability to make these choices in the future). The key is understanding that the (+) and the (-) represent the same thing - a CHOICE.
  3. Say: We can choose thousands of things every day, but servant leaders make choices to LOVE. To clarify, this isn’t touchy feely LOVE - this is LOVE as a verb or an action. A choice to LOVE people unconditionally even when we don’t necessarily “feel like it.” In order to LOVE people well and make people at our school feel valued and important, we sometimes have to CHOOSE LOVE by exercising our WILL.
  4. Ask: What does LOVE look like? What are qualities or actions that demonstrate LOVE?
  5. Say: It can look like many things - so let’s narrow it down to 8 specific choices we can make to LOVE others. We can choose to be patient with people, kind to people, forgiving with ourselves and others, humble, respectful, selfless, honest, and committed when we are trying to show LOVE. James Hunter calls these the 8 Essentials of Servant Leaders - qualities that leaders strive to get better at in their life.
  6. Write: The 8 Essentials: Patience, Kindness, Humility, Respect, Selflessness, Forgiveness, Honesty and Commitment. 
  7. Say: When we demonstrate these 8 Essentials of LOVE, we are required to SERVE people, which almost always requires a SACRIFICE of some kind - a SACRIFICE of time, energy, or comfort.
  8. Say: The more we SERVE & SACRIFICE for others, the more likely we will build INFLUENCE in their lives. Think about the people who have demonstrated LOVE to you in your life and the SACRIFICES they have made to SERVE you. It is not transactional or automatic, but the Law of the Harvest says this: you reap what you sow. ’The more I help others, the more likely they will want to help me in return.’ 
  9. Say: INFLUENCE is a skill, which can be learned. This is exciting because that means anyone can become a leader, because we aren’t born great at the 8 Essentials - they are things we can practice and improve on daily. This challenges the age-old quote that, ‘leaders are born.’ Switch your thumbs because in this model, LEADERS are made!
  10. Say: Once you have built INFLUENCE, you have earned the right to be called a leader. It has nothing to do with a title or position and everything to do with your character - who you are, built on the thousands of choices you make daily. 

Closing Activity if Time Permits:

  1. Say: Leadership is all about relationships, so we would be wise to continue to practice our relationship-building skills. 
  2. Say: When I say “GO,” you will stand up and introduce yourself to someone in the room. After introducing yourself, you will challenge the person across from you to a best 2-out-of-3 Rock Paper Scissors match. Whoever loses needs to tell your partner something about themselves. Finally, shake hands and say, ‘Nice to meet you’ and then move on to introduce yourself to someone else and repeat the same process again.  
  3. Allow this to go for a few minutes before bringing students back together. 
  4. If time remains, move students to Round 2 and 3:
  • Round 2 - Same thing as round 1, but this time if you lose, you ask a question to get to know the person that just beat you. Don’t forget to have students shake hands at the end and say, ‘Nice to meet you.’
  • Round 3 - Same thing as round 1 and 2, but this time if you lose, you tell the person that just beat you, something you learned about someone in round 1 or 2.