In 2009, actor Tony Danza decided to spend a year teaching students at a large Philadelphia high school. Predictably, the teacher wound up learning some big lessons.
Initially, Danza sought to win over the class of 26 students with his wit and charisma. But the students did not care about his background as a famous TV star.
Danza’s supervisor, an experienced teacher, offered sound guidance after the actor got off to a rocky start in the classroom: Think about doing more with less.
To win over his skeptical students, Danza was doing what many new managers do who seek acceptance from employees—they overcompensate by trying too hard to be liked.
When a student didn’t know the meaning of a word, Danza grabbed a dictionary and looked it up for her. When they resisted doing an assignment, he’d start doing it for them.
“Less of you, more of them,” his supervisor advised. “Let them read—and do—their own work.”
Danza also realized he was trying too hard to get the class to like him and laugh along with his jokes. He craved their approval.
“You’re trying too hard to make them like you,” his supervisor said.
From then on, Danza spoke less and listened more. Instead of babbling when he grew nervous, he stayed silent and allowed students to wrestle with the material.
Let Danza’s experience serve as a reminder when you’re managing people you don’t know well. Rather than strive to be liked, coach them to succeed by stepping back.
Pose questions and wait patiently for them to answer. Don’t answer for them or let them off the hook.
— Adapted from I’d Like To Apologize To Every Teacher I Ever Had, Tony Danza, Crown Archetype.