People Matter… Let Them Know It

Cannon Beach, Oregon 

We may not think about it much, but people enter our lives for a reason.  Somehow they leave their imprints on the tapestry of our lives and allow us to learn and grow just a little more.  Our relationships with others help us grow through our interactions, our experiences and the learning we achieve together. Sometimes we become so engrossed in the craziness of our daily lifestyles that we forget to reach out and show our support and empathy to the people in our lives.

Recently, I found out that one of the members of my educational leadership cohort sadly lost a tough battle with cancer.  Melo (as we lovingly called him) was an intelligent and admirable young man. His stories of his trials and tribulations as a dean in a NYC high school were insightful and enriched our learning experiences. When I found out the unfortunate news, I was overwhelmed with guilt for not keeping in touch more often and offering words of hope and support.

This experience made me realize that we all need to make a conscious effort to be more attuned to the people in our lives. We may lend a helping hand or just offer genuine support and kindness.  People are the most important resources of any successful organization.  The relationships we develop in an organization are instrumental to its success.  As such, people need to be appreciated, honored and acknowledged. People need to be guided and supported; and above all, people need to be emotionally cared for when life throws them a curve ball. Our humanity is what strengthens our relationships and promotes genuine trust.

People are the most important resources of any successful organization.

Leaders of learning organizations have a particularly important role in establishing these strong relationships. Leaders have the power to inspire positive relationships by modeling the behaviors they expect in others. They are able to promote credibility through stewardship and honesty. When teachers and school leaders value and implement the social emotional aspects that produce positive and nurturing school climates everyone else will follow their lead—especially the students.

Our students are very perceptive and observant.  They are keen on watching how we behave and how we react in any situation. They don’t only learn from what we teach them; they learn from our actions and behaviors. When we support others through various acts of kindness, we teach our children that kindness and giving is a reflection of our humanity. By involving our schools in programs and activities that emphasize empathy for others, we teach our children that we are one despite our diversity.  By simply giving the children a listening ear and showing authentic support and care when they share their celebrations, apprehensions, or family traumas teachers teach them that people matter and that their experiences are important.

By involving our schools in programs and activities that emphasize empathy for others, we teach our children that we are one despite our diversity.

School leaders that treat teachers with respect by acknowledging their expertise and valuing the contributions they make provide genuine examples of positive relationships.  Small gestures of recognition and appreciation go a long way in improving morale and invigorating people to walk or even run the extra mile to reach the goal. Such gestures will inspire teachers and students to emulate the observed behavior in their own relationships with others as well. It is time that learning organizations realize that relationships are crucial and that people matter.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
―    Maya Angelou

I dedicate this post to the memory of my colleague Carmelo. RIP