Recently, I had an opportunity to observe several scouts prepare for a weekend trip. As the boys gathered camping supplies, water, and cooking tools necessary for the long haul and an exciting weekend, they demonstrated a variety of leadership skills.
What was most interesting about observed interactions between the scouts was the emergence of leadership skills displayed to work together and complete a series of simple tasks. This article will focus on important leadership lessons learned through the lens of the youth.
Chat It Up
Effective communication with others is a necessary component of leadership success. Engaging team members in discussions, including work and non-work topics, helps build interpersonal dynamics within the organizational culture.
A primary benefit of talking with team members is to better understand the individual by listening to information that is important to them.
On the day of the scout trip, this skill was demonstrated by the boy assigned to scout check-in and camp fee collection. We will call him Robert. Robert was focused on his task but was he an effective communicator?
With great ease, organic conversations flowed between each of the boys that initially focused on the camping event.
For example, as each member of the patrol arrived, he explained to each person the exact amount of money to be paid prior to departure. As the boys gladly made payment, Robert effortlessly engaged troop members in conversation and answered questions about the upcoming trip.
The scouts appeared to be pleased with Robert’s easygoing approach. He managed each interaction by focusing on topics of common interest.
Chat It Up Lesson
Talking comes naturally. Get to know people by showing authentic interest in talking with them. Conversation starters may include a favorite memory, pet peeves, or music. By taking an interest in talking with team members, leaders will develop valuable relationships and promote an interactive workforce.
Try a Bit of Tenderness
In order to reach a collective goal, leaders have to show sensitivity to team members. Shouting orders may work in a military environment, and for a good reason; however, it may not be the most effective way to achieve goals in other organizations.
A more productive method of encouraging team members to perform involves setting clear directions, encouraging collaboration, and motivating for a successful outcome!
An apparent difference in leadership behavior emerged from the scout responsible for organizing the chuck box to that of the boy described earlier. This scout’s name is Garrett.
As each scout checked the inventory against the list to be sure all items were in the right place, Garrett wanted them to work faster. He indicated that there was no time for play and told the boys to stop talking so that they could get the job done.
Though only a young teenager, Garrett already demonstrated signs of misplaced power and control. He stood over the boys while working while incessantly referencing how slow everyone was working or not listening to instructions.
The choice of actions in dealing with the patrol members caused a visible negative reaction.
In an instant, the demeanor of the group shifted from a cheerful disposition to irritation and resentment for Garrett. The more Garrett complained about the way the boys worked, the more despondent the group became. Eventually, many of the patrol members revolted by ignoring Garrett in order to finish the task with some semblance of harmony.
Caution, unyielding leaders, combat ahead! The behavior demonstrated by Garrett in the scenario is defined as micromanagement. This style of management is a success-limiting behavior. Leaders that align with this style seldom influence the enthusiastic achievement of organizational goals.
Here is a consideration. Team members commonly know what to do to get a task accomplished. Occasionally redirection is necessary to focus the group on achieving the common goal.
This can be achieved without using rough or brash leader interactions. Maximize your leadership potential by following three steps:
- Recognize behaviors that may cause organizational discord.
- Identify the potential outcome of undesirable interactions.
- Select a more team-focused manner of interaction
Children know how to let loose and live! They appear to have a never-ending supply of adrenaline and use a good amount of it during play. Like children, leaders must find ways to incorporate play at work.
Now, this may not mean that you start recruiting for the next kickball league, but if kickball works for your organization, go for it! What play could also mean is finding ways to connect through team-building interactions or just having a great time at work.
Just before the scouts departed, they played a round of dodging the water bucket. The chuck box fiasco appeared to have minimal impact on the group. Once again, the patrol was back to the happy and carefree group of boys who were excited about the campout.
The water game represented a way to build a stronger bond following a tough interaction. In that moment, the boys demonstrated two things that successful leaders and team members should do:
Move beyond the past and appreciate the gift of future interactions.
Examination of leadership qualities through the lens of the youth provides an opportunity for organizational leaders to get back to basics.
By incorporating simple yet overlooked skills that children demonstrate, leaders will experience the benefit of improved interpersonal dynamics. This renewed focus is sure to have a profound effect on leadership skill growth.
How Can Interpersonal Dynamics Incorporate Overlooked Skills?
If you have ideas about interpersonal dynamics that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!
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Interesting article. What it demonstrates to me is that much of what we learn about relating to others is defined early on in our lives. Obviously people come to the interaction table with a great deal of ingrained bias and well-hardened opinions. As leaders it is important to make sure we communicate to others that becoming successful often means changing in some difficult areas in our lives. The change that is needed is not always for the other guy!
Mindset … No matter what happens it all comes back to the mindset we grow into. Early childhood is where it starts because that’s when our emotions develop. By the time we turn into adults, I reckon we could all do with emotional upgrades from time to time.
Thanks for your insights Tim and Robert! Agreed, what we learn during childhood interactions will shape our perspective as adults. Often some degree of change wil be necessary for leaders to effectively communicate with team members.
This article was excellent. It has helped me realize where I need development in my leadership success. (communication) I also think you made a great decision by using the boy scouts to illustrate leadership success.
Thanks Chris! Great leaders recognize opportunities for development. You are on your way to achieving phenomenal success 🙂
Thank you for sharing. Not only was it insightful but a simple reminder of how positive communication early in life can not only reinforce but build character. It is in the character of a person that their ability to lead and be a leader emerges.
Thanks for the reminder
Hi there Felicia! I totally agree with you. Emergent leader behavior starts early 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Wonderful insight…makes you think about who and how you influence whether you are in an “official” leader position or not. What example do you provide? Are you aware of your actions and comments?
Nicely done Florida.
As usual, very good, sound prospective. This statement spoke to me the most:
Occasionally redirection is necessary
Micromanagement is more common than not. I have worked for more micromanagers than any other type of manager in my career life.
Hi there Laura! Thanks, good rhetorical questions that leaders (official or not) should consider frequently 🙂 Kimberly-thanks for sharing. We’ve all had our share of effective and less effective leaders. The good news…there is always a lesson regardless of the level of effectiveness 🙂
This is an awesome article showing the results of effective communication. As a leader one of the biggest challenges is making sure we communicate in a way that will provide the results we desire from our team and community. I believe when the team has a true understanding of the goal with the knowing we are all working together the end result often time surpasses leadership expectation. When we demean our team the end results are that of mediocrity.
Thank you for sharing!
Thanks Tanya! Good observation. Communication is key. It takes a team of communicators to exceed goals. Thanks for sharing 🙂