William Glasser: Lead Management

Lead management is a term is used by William Glasser to describe a democratic style of management and its accompanying communication technique. The lead manager is the opposite of the boss manager, whose motto is, “It’s my way or the highway:” Among the many differences in management styles between boss and lead managers is that the lead manager seeks to involve students and faculty in decision making and appeals to people’s intrinsic motivation rather than relying on external stimuli of rewards and punishments to keep control.
This system of management is based on choice theory. Human beings have five sources of motivation which are internal and not derived from external stimuli. These needs are:
  1. Survival (physical needs)
  2. Belonging
  3. Power or Achievement
  4. Freedom
  5. Fun
When these needs are fulfilled at school, students behave better, learn more, and see education as valuable and important to them.
Three Principles of Lead Management
Teachers can utilize a lead management style and create a classroom environment that is fun, friendly, and fair by beginning with the following three principles:

  1. Elicit students’ input. Class or group meetings are an excellent way to get students’ input on a wide variety of subjects relevant to a classroom or organization. Seat the students in a circle and ask them about what quality work is and how they would recognize it. Ask them about quality behavior. What is their best effort? What rules should be established for the classroom? Post these rules on flip chart paper and ask all students to sign the paper indicating their agreement. Conduct other meetings on a variety of topics interesting to the students and relevant to the curriculum. Ask them how they think they can best learn the content of the class. Even if teachers cannot implement all the ideas, they usually discover that students have excellent suggestions. Moreover, when students are asked to evaluate their suggestions, they learn valuable lessons about recognizing that they cannot get everything they want at all times. Most important, they feel that the teacher listens to them. Eliciting student input helps meet students’ needs for power and freedom.
  2. Learn and use the WDEP system of Reality Therapy
    When problem solving with students, ask them what they Want from the class, from the school, from themselves, and from the teacher. Ask them how hard they Want to work to get what they want. Ask them about what they are Doing, especially when they misbehave. Avoid asking “why?” as it will only elicit excuses. Lessen the number of lectures about what students ought to be doing and substitute questions that touch the inner needs and wants of the students. Most important, teachers need to ask students to Evaluate their behavior, their effort, and their school work. Is what they are doing helping or hurting themselves, the class, etc.? Is what they are doing against the rules which they have agreed to keep? And then, can they make a Plan of action – a simple, doable plan to do better. Recognize that this is a skill that students need to learn. Good planning will not happen with the first question.
  3. Focus on meeting needs rather than controlling behavior: Abandon questions about how to control students’ behavior and ask the more fundamental questions about how to help students and faculty tap into the five basic human motivators. When these needs are met, school experiences “feel good:” At faculty meetings, discuss possibilities for meeting these needs. Relate the eagerness students feel for athletics, drama, art, or other absorbing activities to the academic curriculum. Why are they excited to learn and work hard in some areas but not in others? These and other questions have no simple answers. But there are answers, and with commitment, they can be applied to other areas, academic and otherwise.

William Glasser: Quality School

In the book Quality School: Managing Students without Coercion, Glasser extended his ideas on enhancing students’ sense of involvement and empowerment. When describing why educators see relatively high rates of off-task behavior in schools, Glasser noted:
For workers, including students, to do quality work, they must be managed in a way that convinces them that the work they are asked to do satisfies their needs. The more it does, the harder they will work.
Instead, teachers are required to stuff students with fragments of measurable knowledge as if the students had no needs—almost as if they were things. . . .
Because this low-quality, standardized, fragmented approach is so unsatisfying to students (and teachers), more and more students are actively resisting and this resistance is seen as a discipline problem.
Criteria for a Quality School
1. Relationships are based upon trust and respect, and all discipline problems, not incidents, have been eliminated.
2. Total Learning Competency is stressed and an evaluation that is below competence or what is now a "B" has been eliminated. All schooling as defined by Dr. William Glasser has been replaced by useful education.
3. All students do some Quality Work each year that is significantly beyond competence. All such work receives an "A" grade or higher, such as an "A+".
4. Students and staff are taught to use Choice Theory in their lives and in their work in school. Parents are encouraged to participate in study groups to become familiar with the ideas of Dr. William Glasser.
5. Students do better on state proficiency tests and college entrance examinations. The importance of these tests is emphasized in the school.
6. Staff, students, parents and administrators view the school as a joyful place.

by Aiman Bayoumi

Work Cited

The William Glasser Institute

The International Child & Youth Care Network

Comprehensive Classroom Management: Creating Communities of Support and Solving Problems, 9th Edition. Allyn & Bacon

Quality School: Managing Students without Coercion. William Glasser. Harper and Row Publishers, 1990