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Commentary by Debbie Henry: Kindergarten Leadership Lessons

School zone caution lights flashing, backpacks loaded with new school supplies, the cadence of the high school marching band approaching the sports stadium signaling Friday night football season, and  the familiar sound of air brakes on the yellow school buses circulating through the neighborhoods – there is no doubt the 2013-14 school year is in full swing in Williamson County.

When I started my academic journey, back in the day, kindergarten was the beginning of the grand school adventure. I absolutely loved kindergarten! I can recall my teacher’s smile, the energy level of my classmates, story time, saddle oxfords and ankle socks with lace trim, the bright pictures on the wall, the smell of chalk, the cubby with my name on it, arts and crafts time, rumors about a mysterious creature called the Tooth Fairy, the birthday parties (mine was the best of all, thanks to my wonderful parents), and the enveloping feeling of love.

All of this nostalgic reflection got me to thinking about how everything we need to know about being a good leader we actually learned in kindergarten.  Somewhere along the way, as serious grown-ups, I feel we didn’t lose the valuable lessons, but perhaps we just forgot how to apply them.

So, let me fresh your memory a bit, take you back to the sand box, and rethink what you learned years ago in kindergarten.

Kindergarten’s leadership lessons are:
1. Share.
2. Play fair.
3. Put things back where you found them.
4. Clean up your own mess.
5. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
6. Look for the wonder and beauty in the world.
7. Don’t beat up or hit other kids.
8. Rest.
9. Speak up, but don’t yell.
10. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
11. Look ahead and watch where you are going.
12. Wash your hands before you eat.
13. Cold milk and warm cookies are good for you.
14. Everything is born and dies – goldfish, hamsters, and even us.
15. Take your time.
16. Slow down and don’t run in the halls.
17. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
18. Learn some and think some and draw and sing and dance and play.

Think about it. What a better world it would be if leaders reflected on what they learned in kindergarten. Just imagine if at 3 o’clock every afternoon the whole world had cookies and milk!

The best take away lesson of all? When going out into the world we should always hold hands, stick together and play fair.

Debbie Henry is Executive Director of The TMA Group; and Associate Director of Leadership Franklin.


Posted on: 9/4/2013


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