Bree Groff, Managing Director at NOBL NYC, shares her secrets for knowing your employees and enabling a team

When I tell people my first job out of school was a 7th grade math teacher, they usually cringe, either from the memories of middle school, or of math, or both. But I learned more about leadership in that first job than in many years since.

Don’t treat employees like errant children. In fact, don’t treat errant children like errant children.

I was in the middle of a lesson when I noticed John turning around to talk to his friend. A few other students noticed and started to chatter as well. My instinct was to restore control: “I want everyone’s attention now!” Some students simmered, but not John, and he turned around to finish his story. I decided to escalate. I became visibly angry, threatening the principal’s office. Not wanting to look uncool in front of his friends, John didn’t back down. The whole thing ended with me asking him to leave the classroom and holding back tears in the process. Not my finest moment.

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