Thursday, November 21, 2019

A Queen Counsels: More Ear--Less Talk

I don't usually keep up with the world of royalty.  But a recent article caught my attention.

You see, it seems that the one of the legal duties of Queen Elizabeth II is to meet weekly with the Prime Minister for counseling. Sam Walker, "The World's Top Executive Coach: It's Queen Elizabeth," Wall Street Journal, Nov. 16, 2019. 

That takes time, energy, and commitment.  And, the queen's been meeting with prime ministers weekly since 1952.  Id.  So, it might be worthwhile to see what she says about counseling and why prime ministers, despite vast differences from one another, continue to seek her advice.

First, the queen provides a safe place for leaders to speak out without "fear or reprisal."  In the queen's words: "They unburden themselves.  They tell me what's going on, or if they've got any problems." Id.  Second, the queen by law is not allow to give orders or publicly takes sides on issues.  Id.  Third, the meetings focus on seeking impartial common ground.  In other words, it's not about the queen's desires but about how to determine what's best for the common good of the people. Id.  Fourth, the queen likens her role in meetings to that of a sponge, which I take to mean being a sounding board for  prime ministers rather than offering advice. Id.

In summarizing the queen's coaching, author Sam Walker suggests the following:  

That great coaches, even though they "often have a better grasp on a tricky situation than the person that they're advising, ...resist the urge to be a helicopter coach.  [Instead,] [t]he only way to help leaders [and students] learn and grow is to allow them to make their own mistakes.  [And,] [t]he only responsible method [to do this] is to let them speak openly, guard their secrets, and, once in a while try to incrementally redirect their thinking.  Doing that requires humility--and lots of practice."  Id.

That's not a role all that different from the world of academic support professionals.  

Like the queen, we are granted access to some of the deepest secrets and most difficult struggles that our students face.  

Like the queen, we must studiously guard our students' confidences.  

Like the queen, we are called to listen lots and speak little.  

Like the queen, our students learn and grow the most when we walk alongside them, helping them incrementally adjust their thinking, so that our students develop expertise in assessing their own learning with solutions that come forth out of the wellsprings of their own hearts and minds.  

To sum up, in the course of most of our work, the truly royal moments of learning are the results of what our students come to experience for themselves under the confidential mentorship of us. As the queen suggests, speaking less can indeed mean speaking more (and in the end lead to better results for our students).  So "hears" to better hearing for the betterment of our students!

(Scott Johns).

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/academic_support/2019/11/a-royal-word-of-advice.html

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