In the late 1990s a study was performed that interviewed the top 80,000 managers in over 400 companies (Buckingham and Coffman, 1999). From this study a key ability was discovered in successful leaders. All successful leaders were able to select the right people for their groups. Buckingham and Coffman identified that people do not change much which means that selecting the right people for a group is vital. “If you hate meeting new people, can you learn to love ice-breaking with strangers? If you shy away from confrontation, can you be made to revel in the cut and thrust of debate? Can you carve new talents? Many managers and many companies assume that the answer to these questions is “Yes”……
The world’s great managers don’t share this perspective. Remember their mantra: “People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough.” This is an amazing insight developed from studying the greatest managers in the world. Buckingham and Coffman go on to explain, “Selecting for talent is the manager’s first and most important responsibility. If he/she fails to find people with the talents that are needed, then everything else he/she does to help them grow will be as wasted as sunshine on barren ground.”
Buckingham and Coffman realized that, against popular belief, trying to influence a person does not work and is inefficient. The way to help lead people to success and improve performance is to align people with their strength, and put them in a position that utilizes what they are good at. This is what we call the “No-Influence” model.
The No-Influence model works as much in business as it does in educating children. The goal of the teacher is not to try and influence the child to be better, but to create a structure that enables the child to utilize their natural capability to become better. Education is not as much about the teacher telling the child what they have to be and what they have to know, as it is to create an environment that is conducive to the child to learn on their own and discover their unique strengths.
The reason the No-Influence model is a better way can be explained simply. It teaches a child to be responsible for their own life and learning. The model teaches the child that they are in control. It allows them to be comfortable with themselves which enables them to develop themselves more. The more you try to influence a child to learn, the more you are telling the child it is not okay to be themselves, that who they are is not good enough. The more you try to influence a child, the less time they have to figure out who they are, the more time they have to spend following directions, and the more time they become a follower and not a leader.
Education is not about trying to change people; it is about enabling them to understand who they are and how to add value to society. We have forgotten this. Current education is about trying to make every child the same, making them learn all the same ideas, whether the information will help them add value to society or not. And if they don’t have the capability to fit this mold, they are deemed a failure and incompetent. More than fifty percent of everything a child learns in school will never be used. Education is no longer about helping children to be smart; it is about teaching them competencies that many of them don’t even know how to use.
The following schools and teaching models have been developed that have identified that not only do children learn quicker in a no-influence education model, they also become more accountable, responsible, and more stable:
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