Monday, February 7, 2011


How do you become a leader?  When do you become one?  Why?

This is a difficult topic I think as there are many different styles and types of leadership.  Over the last few years I’ve been put into a few roles that have required me to show leadership in a variety of different situations.  Some of these roles are very explicit, meaning whoever I am leading is looking right at me while I do it.  Other times the leadership my be expressed in a more subtle manner.

At karate I was informed of my leadership role long before I sought to have one.  Pete and I were given sampei rank and black stripes on our belts and then stood at the front of class while everyone was told that we were the guys to look up to.  Pressure?  Yeah just a bit and it took me a while to come to terms with that situation and do something about it for myself. 

Why was I put in that position?

I think it has to do with an understanding, that leading is not the same as commanding.  For one to lead, the followers must do so of their own free judgement and not to avoid punishment or work.  A good leader can get others to do work simply because they are convinced they like to do it.  Sure there are exceptions to that, but in general I think it applies very well.  When I am leading something at karate I try to make it fun, fast and informative.

At school is another place I’ve been put in a leadership role, this time around at least.  My first time through school I was not a leader at all.  A lack of experience, confidence and work ethic saw to that.  This time however, through the lessons learned in other life experiences, I am.  During our toddler program in 3rd semester I was put into the role of Team Leader.  It is a delicate position to be put into when you have to critique people that are your friends especially in this case because its all about personal style.  I think I did well providing feedback to my team members.  It was definitely the experiences at Karate that helped me with this.

I think you become a leader when you stop looking for it an just go about doing what you are supposed to be doing effectively and efficiently, offering help to people who need it.  Knowing when to speak up and when to keep quiet helps too.  At karate for sure I never asked when promotions would be, I never even asked to teach, but to paraphrase a friend I just ‘do what I do”.  It’s then that people recognize you are someone worth looking up to, that you get your work done and are willing to help out those that are working hard too.

Not everyone is cut out to be in front of a group leading, it does take a lot of getting used to that is for sure.  But showing leadership isn’t the same for everyone either.  you can lead vocally, or just by example.  Everyone has the capacity to lead in one way or another, it’s just a matter of taking hold of the opportunities.

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