How do leaders become leaders? Experience such as my generation had back in the dark ages with 4-H and YCL (Young Citizens League, a regional organization) is how we learned. We conducted meetings and thought through challenges with adult guidance until gradually we could do things on our own.
Just a few years ago, as a grandma, I was in attendance at a local 4-H meeting. The president was a senior in high school and was also a co-president of the high school student council. She did not know how to conduct a rudimentary 4-H meeting. I was appalled mostly because our 4-H kids knew how to do so within the first few years. Then I came to the conclusion that perhaps this club president had either not paid attention or had not been led to know what to do during all of her years in 4-H and school.
Leadership is learned by doing and if individuals are not given the chance to step out and make their own decisions they will not become leaders but will just be robots or puppets run by the person with the most power. When individuals are involved or as we say, have some skin in the game, they care and they do — whatever needs doing.
When we built our rural church we closed four old buildings and brought all of the congregations together into one new church. The pastor mentioned on more than one occasion that because each church had able leaders the best ideas quickly came to the top in a discussion. In addition, he said he knew that if there were need for action, one of these leaders would see it and without being asked, would step in. We all saw it time and again. It made for a smooth transition of the new church.
How did they learn how to lead? They were formed by being given the opportunities to accomplish tasks with hands-on decision-making powers. Even when someone thinks they are “in charge,” they do not need to be involved with every detail; they should trust their others to get the job done.
A friend of ours who lives in another state and is retired, is still excelling in his strong suit — leading others. He is the organizer of various outdoor activities for a group of adults who like to hike and bike. As any good leader would do he recons the area in advance of the trip. He and another member or two check out the restaurants, including the hours they are open and they try the food. He finds the camping spots and any other places they might want to visit. The group trusts him to lead them on a fun excursion.
There are lessons worth noticing from all of these anecdotes: involve people to perform what they are interested in doing and refrain from controlling everything.
Having strong leaders but not allowing them to lead is a waste of resources. ❖