Friday, May 17, 2013

Leadership - Quiet vs. Vocal and Everything In Between

I love the champion of the little man!  These are the kids, Scouts and Church youth leaders who will stop others from picking on others.  They see differences in people and they celebrate them instead of exploit them.  I had one of those Scouts who would put himself between himself and the bully and it didn't matter what size the bully was.  He was consoling   He was a defender of those who were different.  He was quiet most of the time but vocal when the time required it.  Is he a leader?

My Varsity Captain at times says to the Team "You don't get a say.  I am the boss.  I am running a dictatorship."  It drives me nuts and I think it is a horrible thing to say.  I often tell him "Do you hear me say that as an adult leader?  Do you hear our Bishop say that from the stand on Sunday at Church?"  I never correct him in front of the group.  I think that would undermine the real and true authority he has.  Is my Varsity Captain a leader?  (As a small side note, while my Captain is saying this I believe this is my fault.  The reason?  I don't think I have trained him well enough.  I am trying.)

What about the kid that doesn't say much of anything?  He just appears to follow the crowd and do what they say.  Is he a leader?

What about the rebel?  Is he a leader?

So the questions are:  Does a leader have to be vocal?  Can a leader be a quiet guy?  What about a guy that carefully picks his times to say something?  Can a leader say nothing at all?  Is a leader a leader 100% of the time in every situation?

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend my son's middle school athletics breakfast.  They handed out awards to kids from each of the sports.  My son played football and basketball.  He has never played these sports before other than pick up or in the backyard with me.  He didn't have a lot of experience playing these sports so he usually was very quiet and listen to advice of others.  He didn't win any awards (though I was hoping and praying) and I had a conversation with him today about what being a leader is and why awards are not important.

My conversation with him went something like this:
There are a lot of different types of leaders.  There are those who are vocal and those who provide an example.  Then there are those leaders all in between the two.  You are more of a quiet leader.  You don't start drama.  You offer solutions when there are problems.  You are your teammates cheerleader.  Winning an award doesn't make you great and it certainly doesn't make you bad.  I am proud of you for being who you are for the good and the bad.  You are not fake!    You are happy to play even if you don't make the big play.  You just want to be a part of the team.  Your grades are high and your work ethic is getting stronger.  You are not afraid to do hard things.  I love you and I am proud of you.  Awards are great but knowing you did the best you can, is much, much better.  A leader just quietly does what he should.
My son - At 14.5, he is almost 6' 2" and 180# yet he is a gentle giant.  I saw him knock a kid down hard and even before the play was over try to help him stand back up.  If he ever unleashed his evil side to play sports, he will be unstoppable.  He spent part of the time on the bench but moved from B Team in football, where he was playing every play, to A Team.  He struggled with the decision to move because he just wanted to play and he wasn't going to be getting a lot of playing time on A Team.  He played B Team basketball and sat the bench a lot the first few games but his skill increased immensely and played most of each game after that.  When his basketball team lost 8 players due to academic issues (failing grades) he played even more.  He was an AWESOME cheerleader for his team.  He was the first guy up to greet his team when they came off the field or court.  This is one of my most proudest moments.  He is a team player.  He GPA is high even thought his is in AP classes, deals with a NON-nuclear family and blended family and the kid reads a book in under 48 hours.  He is a bit socially "weird" (he gets that from me) due to the fact that he tries to be funny to gain friends.  He isn't the strongest and isn't the fastest but he is my son*!  And I love him.  And he is a leader in my home.  Most of the time a great leader; sometimes he falls short.

Conclusion:  You can lead from anywhere.  You don't have to wear a title to lead.  Depending on where you lead from though depends on how you lead.  If you are a "follower" of a leader, you can lead by giving suggestions, setting a great example or just doing what you are told.  You can also lead in some situations by asking questions.  

I like two types of leaders mostly - quiet, follow my example kind of leaders and those who rarely speak words but use their actions to lead.  (Maybe those are the same.)  Expecting a boy to lead 100% of the time is rare but it is out there.  Boy leaders should be making mistakes and learning from them.  Some leaders who are vocal, I deem as fake.  Some I deem as real.  A leader can show fear but still will do what they are supposed to.  

After thought...........

I was a cheerleader as a senior in high school and I always got razzed because people told me cheerleading wasn't a sport.  And I would defend it until yesterday.  While each sport handed out 4 awards (most improved, MVP defense, MVP offense and MVP) cheer-leading handed out awards to each of the 15 girls.  My son shook his head as each girl was called up.

And as proof.............

* I am not bias at all!!  :)

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