Leadership What Does it mean
What is leadership? After talking with many adults and young people, I realized that it can mean very different things to each person. I have participated in the Boy Scouts of America program as an adult volunteer for the past ten years. During this time I have had the chance to learn how Scouting approaches the leadership concept and how different scouts react to the training they receive.
One of the basic tenants of Scouting after service is leadership. Scouts offers leadership training through its core setup (meaning it is a boy led program and is structured in patrols with each patrol having a leader and each troop having one main leader) and through additional training events such as the National Youth Leadership Training (known as NYLT) program. The reason I bring this up is that I have not only been privileged to learn these programs, but to also see them in action over a decade. I’ve seen how each Scout learns from and embodies the principals taught.
I have also seen Scouts that have shied away from leadership fearing the spotlight. However, since scouting is known as a “game with a purpose” and a safe place for Scouts to develop into young men, they eventually take their turn in one leadership roll or another.
I’ve sat with Scouts and had conversations regarding the fact that leadership takes on many different aspects. You don’t always have to be the one in front of the group talking to be a leader. In fact, I don’t believe that just because you have a title and are doing the talking makes you a leader. So, for the scouts that shy away from the spotlight, I simply discuss the idea of leading through example. Leading by being true to yourself, understanding of others, kind to others, being in service to others, and keeping the bigger picture in mind. Example: are you the one that is talking in the back while the speaker in the front of the room is speaking? Are you the one that looks to get out of doing something because you don’t think it is cool? Or, are you the one that looks to support the goals of the group, pitches in before being asked, and helps think of ways to support the leader? You see, being a good leader also means knowing how to be a good follower. You need to know both sides of the equation.
Scouts has a method of teaching known as the EDGE method. EDGE stands for Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, and Enable. I bring this up as a tool on how to lead. This method can connect you to your audience better. Put yourself in their shoes as you explain what you are trying to accomplish as their leader. Demonstrate how it will help them and that you are willing to take part in the activity as they would. Guide them along the activity to make sure each one is getting the maximum experience from the activity. Lastly, enable them to become a teacher/leader too.
Teaching and knowing how to teach can also make you a better leader. Why? Because it makes you have to see yourself, how you are communicating, and what you are communicating from your students perspective. Their feedback or lack of it will give you valuable information on what kind of leader/teacher you are. From this feedback you can adjust your approach for greater effectiveness.
So, you can see that you don’t have to be in front of the group to be a leader. You can be a leader through the example you set as to what you say and what you do. You can be a leader/teacher and work to relate to your group through their eyes. And you can and should always strive to learn and experience more in life. Why? Because the more experience you have the more perspective you will hold. The more perspective you hold the more understanding you will have. The more understanding you have the more you can relate to people. The more you can relate to people the better leader you will be.
P.S. If you have a young man in your family that is between the ages of 11 and 18 get him into a good “boy lead” Scout Troop. It is a great way to learn leadership, enjoy the great outdoors and help him learn more about himself and the world around him.
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