On the way to school this morning my youngest son (aged 8) was performing his daily ritual of telling me how much he loves his school. Both my boys love their school so much that their recent Mother’s day card also included a thank you for sending them their (and for paying the school fees)! And the crazy thing is that they aren’t alone.
The boys friends all seem to be similar and at a recent birthday gathering for my older son upon the conclusion of singing “Happy Birthday” his school friends surrounded and performed the school “roar”.
It got me thinking, what does this school have that most organisations don’t have? How do they develop their passion and pride of the school so quickly (my youngest son has only been attending the school for 3 years)? What is it that makes my son think that the only requirement he needs for his future wife is her acceptance of getting married in the school church? What is “it” that on days like Anzac Day the old boys (young and old) return to their former school grounds, proudly wearing their old school ties?
I have thought about this often over the last few years and how I could bottle what the school has that most organisations don’t seem to. I keep imagining organisations where employees are like the students of my boy’s school. An organisation that you are really proud to work for (or worked for) where people can’t wait to go to work at the “best organization in town”.
So what is it that the school has that most organisations don’t have? Here’s a couple of my thoughts/observations.
My son uses a slate… And I am not talking about the slate that some of us may have used when we attended school. He uses his slate for all his lessons, He’s currently writing a composition for music, which certain software is required; he can download it via the school portal.
How many organisations continue doing the same things the same way for years “because that’s the way we have always done it”? Imagine if the school had taken this approach?2.
- Rounded Individuals
When my eldest son attended his entrance interview from school unbeknown to me he was assessed in 4 areas (academia, sport, citizenship and music). At the end of the interview the Headmaster advised me that whilst my son was most suitable on the academic, sport and citizenship fronts, he would be required to commence playing some sort of musical instrument. The school expects all boys to fully participate in all 4 areas.
How many organisiations recruit and select a candidate on the basis of a person’s capability in one particular area? I have certainly heard employers say “that guy is a genius at what he does, but he’s no good with people”. Imagine a school that focused solely on sports. Would that be a school that my not so “sporty” son would thank me for sending him to?
The school captain of the school is a leader. He’s academically excellent, he’s the most senior army cadet, he wins athletically and I am sure he plays an instrument! He also walks around the school and talks to his fellow students. Recently, he stopped my older son (who is in Year 7) and asked him how he was going with learning French. My son replied that he wasn’t really enjoying it. The school captain asked who his teacher was and when my son told him who his teacher was, the school captain replied, “it will get better mate, she’s a tough teacher – so hang in there”. My son, who until then was not enjoying French, now enjoys French. The school captain talking to him for probably less than 2 minutes changed his approach and dread of the subject.
How many organisations are led by a CEO that walks around and checks in with a particular task or subject and truly motivates their team to just give it that little bit extra or to change their approach because their experience tells them it will get better. Imagine working for an organisation whose CEO does.
I am sure there are many other pieces of the puzzle that I haven’t mentioned.
Just writing this post has triggered some thoughts for how I can be a better leader of my organisation, I hope it has for you too.