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The Simplicity of Great Leadership
The most powerful people in the world are teachers. To teach is to care enough to enhance the life of another, to give of yourself. You will never find a successful or powerful person who solely focuses on himself. Successful people care. It is that simple. They care about doing the right thing in every situation and with every person; and they pass that philosophy on to as many people as possible. The power of caring is phenomenal.
In all the classes I have enrolled in at Purdue University I have never met anyone like Professor Richard Feinberg. The first few weeks of class he was basically MIA. He sat in the back of a large lecture room saying and doing nothing. He sat back and watched us. You can only imagine what happens when there is no leadership in a classroom of 250 college students: pure chaos. Emotions ranged from the typical, “Kickass this is the best class ever! We have nothing to do and no professor, sweet!” Then there were the few dedicated students saying, “Screw this professor, I want to learn something. This is so unfair!” Some students just left. Other students sincerely tried to figure out what the hell we were supposed to do. Still others ignored the situation and took advantage of the time to kick back and chat it up. There was absolutely no way we were going to get anywhere without direction.
Despite the lack of guidance from the professor, the class managed to structure itself into smaller sections, assign leaders, and attempt to run the class ourselves. The class, the subordinates, had to follow the typical corporate hierarchy rules. There was no open communication and no matter what we wanted the professor, “The CEO,” ultimately ran the show, and usually shot our requests down. We were powerless and furious. Curses were flying around about Richard Freaking Feinberg.
You see, Professor Feinberg, “The CEO,” was running his classroom like a typical corporate setting. An environment where the leaders don’t care, aren’t involved, and are solely focused on bringing home the numbers. Long forgotten are the people at the core of their company, the employees and clients. Throughout the course of the class Professor Feinberg gradually became more involved and more of a teacher. He became a leader. He started to interact, be amongst us, and CARE. He read us stories, made us laugh, conversed with us on an equal level. He shared his memories, shared his life, opened up his world to us, and became a part of our classroom. The moment I understood the method to his teaching madness came from an email he sent out before an upcoming “festive weekend” at Purdue.
The email read, “If you drink, don’t drive. Do not get in the car with anyone who has been drinking. Call me. I will pay for your taxi. I will pay for your hotel. I will come get you” – Richard Feinberg. He attached his personal contact information and reiterated this statement in class. What an impact his true expression of concern made. It was then that I understood why he ran the classroom the way he did. He showed us horrible, yet typical, leadership to show us the simplicity of great leadership.
It was an extraordinary experience. Someone in power truly cared. This professor was concerned about me! After realizing this, he earned my respect and dedication; I would follow him through anything. Professor Feinberg knew the secret all along. What separates the good from the great is to give a damn! The freaking Golden Rule and beyond! Care about others more than yourself. It is so simple.