Emo­tion, trust are vi­tal to­day

JANSEN: It’s time for us to break away from 17th cen­tury views of lead­er­ship

Weekend Witness - - News - SHE­LAGH MCLOUGH­LIN

AS lead­ers, teach­ers need to be emo­tional, Pro­fes­sor Jonathan Jansen said in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg yes­ter­day. Speak­ing at the Proudly Pri­mary 2013 con­fer­ence be­ing held at Cord­walles Prep School this week­end, he told the 1 000-plus del­e­gates, in a ses­sion punc­tu­ated by much laugh­ter and a few tears, they needed to hug more, lis­ten more and lead by do­ing.

Ti­tled “Touch­ing the Fu­ture”, the con­fer­ence was or­gan­ised by the In­de­pen­dent Schools As­so­ci­a­tion of South­ern Africa.

Jansen said it was im­por­tant that teach­ers re­mem­bered that as lead­ers they were al­ways on dis­play, but at the same time the tra­di­tional con­cept of what a leader is needed to be chal­lenged. “When we think of lead­er­ship we tend to think of it as mas- cu­line and testos­terone-driven, where strength not weak­ness is ad- mired. This is a 17th cen­tury view of lead­er­ship,” said the vice-chan­cel­lor and rec­tor of the Univer­sity of the Free State. “We need to be emo­tional … to lead 21st cen­tury or­gan­i­sa­tions.”

Jansen said the first step to be­ing an emo­tional leader was to know one­self — “who are you when the lights are off?” — and then be in touch with one’s en­vi­ron­ment. “I be­lieve in be­ing sen­sory,” he said. “Hug­ging, tast­ing, smelling and lis­ten­ing are im­por­tant.” He said be­cause his job at UFS is to un­der­stand his stu­dents he in­sisted on teach­ing first years. “It helps me to un­der­stand where they are po­lit­i­cally and per­son­ally.”

He told the au­di­ence of pri­mary school teach­ers that lead­ers needed to sub­mit to be able to lead ef­fec­tive- ly. “When last did you cry with your stu­dent? When last did you say sorry? To sub­mit means to be hon­est, to ad­mit your own bro­ken­ness.”

He said close­ness was es­sen­tial for lead­er­ship. “Peo­ple need to trust you as one who is close to them in pe­ri­ods of well­ness and cri­sis. It’s not so much about phys­i­cal prox­im­ity as emo­tional and spir­i­tual close­ness. Near­ness is a cru­cial as­set in the trans­for­ma­tion process … kids will re­mem­ber you not for what you taught, but how you were as a hu­man be­ing.”

Jansen also said that peo­ple re­spond to lead­er­ship be­ing demon­strated, say­ing he liked prin­ci­pals who teach. “Do we as lead­ers give our kids a sense of hope,” he asked, say­ing that as a leader his pur­pose is to in­spire young peo­ple.

PHOTO: JONATHAN BUR­TON

Pro­fes­sor Jonathan Jansen speak­ing at Cord­walles Prepara­tory School yes­ter­day

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