Spent the snowy weekend in the woods, working with young people on their leadership skills or, more precisely, watching them learn those skills themselves. The formal curriculum was the Boy Scouts of America’s Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops, but the lessons were learned as the groups worked together for the non-formal parts of the day.
And isn’t that exactly right? Because there are a lot of “leaders” out there who sit through an awful lot of trainings like that (not to mention offer those trainings)! And there are a lot of MBAs churned out annually. How many are truly leaders, in the sense of being able to work in a team, inspire others, and put the group above self? Not many. Not a huge percentage.
But what I saw in this group of 12- to 16-years olds was largely leadership. Like cooking dinner on a propane stove for their small groups, when it was snowing and their hands were cold and the wind was blowing. Or making sure that the group assumed responsibility for cleaning the site and leaving it better than we found it. How many politicians or CEOs would do that? Would they even call it leadership? Would they recognize it?
And why not? And if we answer that question, have we identified what is wrong with so many of our major societal institutions today?
It didn’t all go well. Some meals were barely meals. Some food was ruined. Some stoves took a long time. Not everyone pulled their weight. Tempers were frayed. Relationships strained. Part of the lesson. But, overall, I walked away impressed at what we show when we don’t know what we’re supposed to. Leadership and integrity come when no one is looking, or when you don’t know enough to care whether someone’s looking.
Just a thought.