“If all of us are leaders, then who is leading who?” This was a question posed to 27 of our youth who were attending a 2-day leadership camp at Camp Challenge. These youth reside in different neighbourhoods and they were at the camp because they take on leadership responsibilities where they live. This question got our youth thinking about the notion of a leader. Is he just the guy barking the orders, or could he really be everyone who offers a leadership presence?
At the end of Day One, the youth were told that they were responsible for the programme on Day Two. As a group, they had to agree on the schedule and to defend their decision should an instructor ask them about it. More importantly, it should be one that is adhered by everyone the following day. It was a simple task but a challenging assignment as building consensus without an appointed leader meant that one could not deflect responsibility for a decision made.
As the camp progressed, the youth caught on that every exercise put them in a frustrating situation. They were baited to disagree, and it dawned on some that a leadership presence meant conducting themselves in a manner that would takes things forward. Syafirah, 17 years old had this to say. “I learned that achieving great teamwork even among strangers is possible if we all listened to one another. Whenever, my group could not come to a conclusion, we listened to each other’s ideas again and somehow it was easier to decide after that.” She added that by being “friendly and approachable” she discovered that those whom she initially thought to be unapproachable were very friendly as well. Syafirah felt that her group cooperated well but she noticed that it may not have been so for others.
During the campfire on the last evening, the youth had to come up with a performance to entertain. Some sang, some danced but a group came up with a skit that was an enactment of a disagreement they had with their instructor. When the acting ended, they provided their analysis of where things started to go wrong. They also noted that they could have offered each other and their instructor a lot more respect, care and understanding; qualities expected of a leader. Finally, they apologised to their instructor for their lack of cooperation.
The notion that a leader is someone in the service of others was an idea that was rather foreign to the youth but after 2 days, they got an inkling that nothing moves if there is no mutual respect, care and consideration among a group of people.
Enjoy your weekend.
“Good leaders must first become good servants.” – Robert K. Greenleaf