Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tough love is the secret to being a great teacher

That's according to Joanne Lipman, author of Strings Attached: One Tough Teacher and the Gift of Great Expectations, former Deputy Managing Editor of the Wall Street Journal and founding Editor-in-Chief of Conde Nast Portfolio magazine.  In this blog post from the Harvard Business Review, she lists her five principles for the sort of tough love needed to inspire success which she learned from the greatest teacher she ever met, a childhood music teacher known as "Mr. K."

The Fine Art of Tough Love

. . . .


The teacher at the heart of the book Strings Attached is on the face of it an unlikely corporate role model. My childhood music teacher Jerry Kupchynsky, who we called “Mr. K,” was strictly old school: A ferocious Ukrainian immigrant and World War II refugee, he was a tyrannical school orchestra conductor in suburban New Jersey. He would yell and stomp and scream when we screwed up, bellowing “Who eez DEAF in first violins?” His highest praise was “not bad.”  He rehearsed us until our fingers were raw.


Yet ultimately he became beloved by students, many of whom went on to outsize professional success in fields from business to academics to law, and who decades later would gather to thank him.


My coauthor and I both expected pushback against Mr. K’s harsh methods, which we describe in unflinching detail. But instead, the overwhelming response from readers has been: “Amen! Bring on the tough love.”  And nowhere has that response been stronger than in the business world, among corporate executives.


. . . .


So, how best to put those “tough love” principles into action when it comes to inspiring excellence in the workplace?  Mr. K’s methods offer an intriguing roadmap:


1. Banish empty praise.


2. Set expectations high.


3. Articulate clear goals –and goal posts along the way.


4. Failure isn’t defeat.


5. Say thank you.

Continue reading here.


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