Last week, I asked our scouts (and their parents) five questions:
- Name five people that you consider to be leaders.
- List some reasons why you picked these five people.
- List attributes/qualities/characteristics that you see in these people (or any other “leader”) that set them apart as leaders (they’re more likely to ….. than most people, OR they’re less likely to ……. than most people, etc.)
- Can you think of any verses in the bible that discuss leadership or the attributes of a good leader (or name people from the bible who were leaders not already mentioned above?) [NOTE: you don’t have to be “Christian” to be in scouts, but in our troop, we share a common faith and frequently discuss our faith in the light of our scouting activities]
- What would you like to learn about in our talks on leadership – is there anything in particular that you want us to cover?
The responses were fun and interesting:
1. Name five people that you consider to be leaders. (we added that they could be dead or alive, real or fictional, examples of good or bad, etc. — the emphasis was that they were “leaders” of groups of people)
Responses included: current scout leaders within our troop (both youth and adult); Military commanders (i.e. generals from the US Army, Alexander the Great, Darth Vader); historical figures (George Washington, Abraham Lincoln); people from the Bible (i.e. Jesus, Moses, Paul the Apostle, King David, Abraham, Noah, et.al.); people from the world of entertainment (i.e. Chuck Norris, Hannibal Smith, Vin Diesel in the Pacifier, etc.)
2. List some reasons why you picked these five people.
Sacrificed all for God, courage, bravery, perserverance (won’t quit), follow what they believe in, integrity, honesty, humility, willingness to serve, desire to follow plan of God, vision, a plan, these people led by example, they make good choices, positive role models, patient, good listeners.
3. List attributes/qualities/characteristics that you see in these people (or any other “leader”) that set them apart as leaders (they’re more likely to ….. than most people, OR they’re less likely to ……. than most people, etc.)
Others will come to them for advice; they exhibit wisdom in what they do; humility; not afraid to fail; more likely to “do” than to just “say”; less likely to spend time putting others down; an ability to adhere to the word of God; not asking people to do what they wouldn’t do themselves
4. Can you think of any verses in the bible that discuss leadership or the attributes of a good leader (or name people from the bible who were leaders not already mentioned above?) [NOTE: you don’t have to be “Christian” to be in scouts, but in our troop, we share a common faith and frequently discuss our faith in the light of our scouting activities]
Gideon, David, Moses, Joshua, Jesus, David, Psalm 1, Joshua 1:7-9, “all of Torah. This is what Paul quotes when he writes to Timothy”, Solomon, Ezra, Nehemiah, Hezekiah…
5. What would you like to learn about in our talks on leadership – is there anything in particular that you want us to cover?
“Jesus’ teachings on servanthood”, “new testament leadership”, “How to lead in humility”, “How to be a good leader”
I really appreciate everyone’s open honesty in their responses.
There was consistent thread running between responses in that character (expressed in different ways such as making good choices, humility, good listener, won’t quit, etc.) is a very important part of defining a leader.
However, I just want to point out that some leaders are effective at leading others (influencing the group to move towards a common goal) even though their character is fatally flawed. An example of a fictional character with strong organizational results, but very bad outcomes would be Darth Vader – he may have been able to get people to do his bidding, but to an evil end! (and if you want to chuckle, check out this Forbes article on five leadership mistakes of the “galactic empire” — http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2012/02/13/five-leadership-mistakes-of-the-galactic-empire/)
Because of this potential for “charismatic, but improperly focused leaders” we need to examine the plans, vision, and goals of a leader carefully – what are they really trying to accomplish and can they be trusted? Do they tell the truth or do they manipulate people for selfish ambition? What are the leader’s values based on? Do they adhere to a moral compass that is shifting and defined by what’s currently popular at this moment in time, or is it based on a foundation that doesn’t change?
We also talked about the great number of people described in the Bible that were leaders of families and nations — some great, some bad, some that started out good and went sour. Even as early as Exodus 18:13-27, we see lessons in delegation of authority and practical leadership — and there are many, many more examples.
This discussion of character and vision is in line with the introductory leadership training program in scouting that is based on the BE-Know-Do model*:
- “Be” encompasses many of the values of Scouting. The course modules focus on ethical decision making as well as how a Scout can and must put the team’s needs before his own needs. The courses are designed to motivate the Scouts to follow a life of helping others succeed based on the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Law. Youth members are taught to strive to be servant leaders—a term that encompasses the concept of others-first leadership. The youths learn to care about others and to help them succeed.
- “Know” describes the information that the Scout needs to successfully fill his leadership position. This includes not only the nuts and bolts of the position and its expectations, but what he needs to know about his team and himself in addition to the skills of teaching and leading. The Know skills include such topics as learning about others so that he knows the needs of his team members. A patrol leader who seeks to serve knows his patrol members well enough to help them succeed.
- “Do” provides the youths with a vast set of skills to be effective in his position by employing the skills in the leadership skills toolbox. These how-to skills include communication, problem solving, planning, and resolving conflict. How do they create a vision, goals, and plans to effectively get a task done well? How can they use the Start, Stop, Continue method for assessing progress and delivering feedback in a nonthreatening and highly effective manner? How do they determine the stage of their team’s development so as to most properly use the Leading EDGE(TM) to guide their progress? How do they resolve conflict and communicate effectively? These are the skills that are taught in the youth leadership training continuum.
Much of what we need to know about the “BE” section of leadership training has already been covered over the past two years – learning about and applying scouting’s ideals (Oath, Law, Motto, Slogan, etc.) and tying them to the attributes of a Godly Man, too. These characteristics of being trustworthy, above reproach, loyal, helpful, friendly, hospitable, and so on help us define our sense of self and will shape how we work with others.
So the bottomline is this – if you want to BE a great leader, BE a great person of character. Don’t SAY you are, BE that person in your choices, actions and attitudes each day on a consistent basis.
We’ll be spending more time on this discussion of character (BE) before moving on to the “KNOW” and “DO” sections since it is the foundation of effective leadership.