Lessons Learned from Antoinette Tuff

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August 26, 2013

Hero or Leader?

Last week we all heard the incredible story about the bookkeeper at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy who talked the 20 year old gunman down from taking violent actions and initiating another school massacre.  As I listened to Antoinette Tuff tell her story on TV, I was struck not only by her heroism, but by her natural leadership.

Antoinette’s communication skills were outstanding; she was a great listener and her tone was both reassuring and calm.  As she listened to the troubled young man, she showed him compassion and empathy.  She coached him on his situation and provided him opportunities to shift the direction he was heading. She made an emotional connection with the shooter, which is ultimately the reason she was successful in bringing the dangerous situation to a peaceful resolution.

Great leaders are great communicators and know how to create an emotional connection with the people they lead.  Listening, empathizing, coaching and showing a sincere interest in their well-being is just part of the equation.  Showing respect and building trust are key as well.   Antoinette displayed all these skills at last weeks near tragic event.

Antoinette was calm, courageous and focused.  Even though she was fearful on the inside, she kept her cool under pressure and stayed focus on her end goal; bringing the situation to a peaceful end for everyone.  While many situations that face leaders are not actual “life or death situations” the same skills are critical.  Employees look a leader who is courageous and has their back; someone who has a vision to the end goal and delivers on their promises.

So in conclusion, there are some great leadership lessons to take way from Antoinette Tuff’s story.  The biggest for me is the importance of creating the emotional connection with others.  What lesson will you gleam from her experience?