Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Learning to Lead

Tonight was another good old fashioned Jeansonne boys dance party. The new thing at these dance parties is that now the boys like to take turns leading or being the ‘Dance King’. The Dance King gets to create the moves and the rest of us follow. Jonah, who is 4 years old, is a dancing machine. He is currently working on his head spin. I’m not kidding! I have to regularly tell this kid that spinning on his head is not a dance move I want him perfecting. All the same, he has great moves and beautiful creativity when it comes to choreographing a piece. The interesting thing about Jonah though, as well as most kids….and most adults for that matter is that he loves to lead and be in charge, but he’s not so keen on following. Immediately upon my transferring the Dance King title and role to his older brother, Jonah threw a fit, walked his way to the corner of the room, plopped himself down and pouted.

I walked over to Jonah to explain to him that part of being a good leader is learning how to be a great follower. I urged him on and encouraged him to learn what it is to follow someone else’s lead. The truth is you can’t lead well until you learn to follow well.

He’s 4. He didn’t get it. But I figure that it’s never too early to start learning.

Is it possible for us to actually learn this valuable lesson at an early age in life?

Did you have to learn this lesson the hard way or were you able to learn it on the dance floor of your parent's home?


curia_regis said...

In my personal experience I think I became a much better follower after I was put into a position of leadership.

While leading various groups I certainly picked up on attitudes I didn't appreciate, lack of work ethic I didn't understand, and the general frustration that comes with trying to get someone to do something they're only mildly interested in doing.

All of those experiences really helped me to see that when someone else is in charge they're not looking for the type of behaviors I've just described, but someone who's willing to do it with a good attitude.

Ever since leading my first group I've tried to bring the same attitude and behavior that I would want from a follower if I was the leader.

It took me maturing a great deal to understand this, and I certainly wouldn't have been able to understand that a great leader is a great follower until my late 20s (at the earliest).

But perhaps Jonah will set the curve...

Pi Man said...

Funny about the Dance King game. As for your question, and this is certainly not profound, but it has been a process in my life. When I was in my teens I was mainly a follower. Then in my 20's-early 40's I led, in some capacity, pretty much everything I was involved with. Now at 52, I seem to like to view my role as following in the support sense (i.e., contributing in whatever way but not being the leader per se), and leading silently but actively (by example and with actions), as I try to remember every day one of our main tenets... blessed to be a blessing.