As a high school Spanish teacher, coach of varsity golf and junior varsity basketball, and director of a summer camp, I am particularly sensitive to the leadership potential of the team members of which I lead. Through my experiences, I have found that leadership manifests itself in numerous ways within numerous personality types, but the common thread among all good leaders is that others consistently follow.
Every Tuesday at our multi-sports camp at SYS, Southampton, we focus on leadership and design activities and games that promote and foster opportunities for the campers to lead. Orienteering, scavenger hunts, and many Olympics and Color War events require the campers of all ages to collaborate and work towards a common goal. This collaboration inevitably leads to certain campers stepping into leadership roles, as we design said activities for the counselors to monitor and observe, not direct.
What we as a staff notice is that the most effective leaders are not always the loudest. Many of our best leaders, in fact, remain calm, cool, collected, and speak only when absolutely necessary. Otherwise, they let their actions and how they treat their teammates serve as the model for their team dynamic. What we notice is that the teams that are led by campers who have a genuine interest in the well-being of their group members, typically outperform those teams that are led by those who want to win ‘at all costs.’
So the important question is, “Why is this the case?” Why do certain leaders compel others to perform at their best, while others, despite their best interest, aren’t as successful? While it is solely conjecture on my part, here is my best attempt. In order to be a great leader, you must first and foremost be a great person. You must have a genuine and innate desire to see those around you succeed, not for your own benefit, but for the benefit of the greater good.
We, as a society, need to focus more on promoting leadership qualities within our youth, and there is no better forum than athletics to achieve said end. In athletics, as in life, we will need to overcome setbacks, perils, and obstacles. Only in the face of challenges do we learn how to be better people, and in the face of challenges we need people to lead more than ever.
If you are a parent, seek out local community leaders, coaches, or teachers that embody leadership qualities and encourage your child to spend time with that person or those people. Spending time around good people who are also good leaders is invaluable. We are lucky to have great people and leaders at Future Stars, so you can always send your child to us!