We are all teachers, we are all students
I was interviewed today.
The topic was 'leadership communication' or something like that and the questions, asked by a university student, came thick and fast.
"How do you run your organisation day to day and what is your thought process behind decision making?" "What is your leadership style?" "How do you identify a good leader?" "What is the organisational dynamic between your team?"
After the first nervous initial onslaught and babbled, meandering answers I relaxed into it and treated the interview as an exploratory discussion rather than a fixed Q&A. And in doing so, I realised something. I know stuff.
From deep within me came complex, sophisticated answers on the relationship between good leadership and initiative, the role of a leader in a community context, the power of everyday leadership and the uncomfortable nature of the unknown.
For those of you who think I'm being humble - it's not that. It's just that I often find that I get stuck in the everyday grind of the realities of running an organisation. The small daily challenges to overcome, the endless admin and finicky tasks that come with the job. I don't often get the chance to take a step back and talk high level thought leadership.
What the interview did was give me a chance to stop and reflect. Reflect on the impact that I have helped create over the past couple of years. Reflect on areas where my own leadership methods work and others in which they can be strengthened. And most importantly, reflect on how far both myself and the organisation have come and what we together have achieved.
I left the interview with a smile on my face and a happy, contented feeling.
Afterwards the student messaged me thanking me for my time and telling me he was inspired by my work bringing people and communities together. I told him that the pleasure was all mine. It had given me the opportunity to teach - share my experience, thoughts and ideas - yet also to learn - about myself, about the organisation and about leadership.
We are all teachers, I told him. Just as we are all students. Today I was lucky enough to be both.