Both my kids are attending a Mini-University camp at the University of Manitoba this week. My daughter is taking a craft camp and my son is taking a myth-busters camp. For the record, they love the camps and I love how the camps are being taught.
Over dinner on Monday I saw that my daughter was a team leader, on Tuesday my son was team leader for the day. I thought this would be a great time to discuss was a leader was. So I asked both of them what a leader does on a team.
I’ve watched my son interact with his friends enough times to guess that the leadership role would probably end up being a competition with his friends. My daughter also likes to be ‘directional’ with her friends, I was really intrigued as to how they conducted themselves as leaders.
My first question was whether they enjoyed being leaders. Both of them mentioned that it was a lot of work. They both said they wouldn’t want to be a leader tomorrow. They thought it would be good for each of the kids to have a turn.
Alright! So far, so good.
My second question was what they did they do as leaders? Did they order people around? Did they tell people what to do? Both of them mentioned that they assigned tasks to the rest of the team.
Hmmmm… I was a little concerned until my daughter piped in..
“But then my team had better ideas as to who should do what tasks. So we decided as a group to change how we did things and I spent my time getting things for the rest of the team”
I’ve never been so proud.
My thoughts on great leaders fall into these two principles illustrated by my kids…
1) Great leaders don’t usually want to be leaders. They usually take on the role when encouraged by their team. Given their choice, they would much rather operate in the shadows performing a practitioner role on the project.
2) Great leaders don’t direct the team, they serve the team by providing whatever the team needs. Sometimes it can be vision or structure but most of the time it is facilitation and serving the needs of the team.
Ultimately I think great leaders are coaches who just want to be players again. I’m glad to see my kids are learning this far earlier than I did…