The Bad Habits You Learn in School – John Coleman – Harvard Business Review

On bad habits you learn in school–and there are many, especially relating to leadership and professional life, including relationships to authority, changing information, fear of failure, and why we can’t just focus on ourselves–as students are required to do:

Consider first the emphasis schools have on authority. Schools are hierarchical: The teacher is the authority in the classroom. Principals or deans preside over teachers and professors. Seniors “rank” higher than juniors, and so on. In our years in the educational system, many of us become obsessed with hierarchy. We think were leaders if were the “boss,” and if were not the boss, we should simply do as were told. In reality, even the most senior people in organizations cant rely solely on hierarchy, particularly given the much needed talents, experiences, and intelligence of the others who surround them. Leadership is an activity, not a position, a distinction explored deeply by Ron Heifetz in Leadership Without Easy Answers.

Many great leaders like Gandhi and Nelson Mandela have led others, despite having little to no formal authority, and writers are now exploring methods for leading without formal authority. While some hierarchy may be needed, leaders who learn to lean too hard on formal authority often find themselves and their organizations frustrated, stunted, and stagnant.

via The Bad Habits You Learn in School – John Coleman – Harvard Business Review.

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