Recently I had the pleasure of speaking to a long-time friend of mine about our work, and how interesting our journey has been. Dr. Rima Azar and I met at the age of 25 as graduate students at the University of Montreal. At the time, little did we know that we would both venture in the world of academia as Postdoctoral Fellows with my stay being transient while hers blossomed into a full-time career as an Associate Professor at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick.
Leaders as Captains of the Learning Boat
I provide you with this background because Rima has always wanted to be a people leader. Leading others comes natural to her. This doesn’t mean she was born a leader. As two academics, we agree that leaders are not born. They are made. In her blog, she shares how she grew in her leadership through her supportive actions toward her many undergraduate and graduate students. She took what came natural to her, which was caring for others and imparting knowledge to the mass, and turned it into a life-long mission: Help students thrive and reach their potential. What is fascinating is how she sees herself: She describes being the captain of a Learning Boat which begins with onboarding her students by gaining their confidence and trust to ensuring their journey, being memorable even in the presence of life storms to finally helping them dock safely. As I paused and reflected on the true essence of her work, I wondered what would happen if leaders in the corporate world were to envision their leadership in a similar way.
The Captain is a Conscientious Guide
Just imagine for a moment that you make the decision of being clear with your expectations toward your team and guide them with concern for their sense of psychological safety while they learn and make mistakes. During their time under your management, you remind them that you will not lead them astray as they battle unexpected life circumstances. Moreover, you pay attention to what your team is learning and carefully ensure this valuable knowledge is being recorded, organized, and transferred to the next leader in line or to others within your group. Imagine what would happen? Sadly, what I often see are leaders unable to or unwilling to be the captains of their learning boat either because they tell themselves they have no time or they simply do not know how to be a good captain. In this blog, Dr. Azar shares with us her wisdom of how to be a good captain. My hope is that it inspires you to claim your place on the Learning Boat and be the captain your team needs you to be.