It brought me back to all of the influencers in my career in schools - there were many.  I think that the ones who were the best at it were best at what George is restating from Paul LaRue's article and that is they identified that each person that they serve (note the word use there) had value and were most importantly able to extract that to help the whole team.  Mastering this two-step process is what I think separates these great influencers from the others.  I really enjoyed the quote from former Governor-General, novelist, and historian John Buchan:

quote the task of leadership is not to put greatness into people but to elicit it for the john buchan

So as leaders we need to go into our searching for value in the people we serve with the open/growth/positive mindsets that each person has greatness within them.  If you don't believe this is the case, I would ask you to look in the person in the mirror.  The first step is to identify what that greatness that brings value to the team.  How to do this best?  Relationships.  The more you understand the person, the more your eyes open to their potential.  This may come from working day-to-day with them, having challenging conversations, seeing them in different roles, in a school (teacher, mentor, coach, organizer, etc.) and keeping an eye on where they hold value.  If we don't take the time to work on that relationship the task of seeing and finding that value diminishes.

The second step of the process once you have identified the value in those you serve you need ask yourself these questions:

  • How can the value best serve our students?
  • How can the value benefit the person who holds the value?  I recently heard the acronym the WIIFM (What's in it for me factor.)
  • How can the value lift the value of others?
  • How will this value potentially affect the value of others in a negative way?

Once a leader knows the answer to these or at least has most of these answered you can get an idea of how this person on your team can bring that value.  It might be that they need something to ignite them, like a prompting, a certain work environment, or a combination of working partners.  I've learned from my influencers that we, as leaders,  are people who set the environment for our people we serve to be great.  An easy analogy is that of a farmer; we are planting seeds.  If the ground is prime for growth, it will happen given time.

My hope is that as a leader you can look at each person you serve and find the greatness within them and then create that environment to extract that value they bring so in turn students are the benefactor in their learning and the person benefits from seeing the results.