On Tuesday I asked my students to dissect my syllabus and critique it. That's a classic first activity for the Adaptive Leadership Course following Heifetz and Linky's "Case in Point" method - a method of teaching leadership that uses the classroom as a leadership laboratory. I want to invite students to really own this course. After all, as I explained to my students, there isn't a "Syllabus Bible" out there. We dream stuff up and hone stuff up and pray it will work. We do our best - but we don't really know if our best is enough.
"Go ahead," I told my students. "Make changes. Tell me whether the point division is ok. Tell me whether the syllabus is fair." I waited as the groups discussed - the buzz in the room was just great! Then I sat at the back of the room and tried hard to shut up and let the volunteer class leader do his job. Ah, that was hard. I wanted to get up and say something. The discussion was taking forever and I was getting worried. Are people getting bored? Is this working? Do they hate it? What if they suggest something crazy? What will I do then? I don't have a clue. I just hope they don't suggest something crazy (uff - they didn't).
As I write this I smile. I wonder if my students realize that I worry all the time. I probably woudn't mention this in most classes (should I?) - but this is Adaptive Leadership, after all. This is where the leader gets to be vulnerable and open. This is where the leader accepts that he/she doesn't know it all, doesn't do it all, doesn't get it always right. This is where we all get to stand on the balcony and look at ourselves. My fellow leaders and I. The whole class.
I tell you what - teaching Adaptive Leadership is not for the faint of heart. Instead, it's downright scary.