The true measure of a leader

A recent column by John Hagel and John Seely Brown in Forbes magazine reveals the startling news to corporate leaders:  In the past, a leader was measured by how many followers he had, but in the future, a leader must produce more leaders to be considered successful. They explain that corporate leaders have to leverage the talents of those they lead, and that corporate culture is changing from workers merely following directions to workers being given responsibility and encouraged to take the initiative to solve problems as they go.

Isn’t this what we’ve been practicing in Scouting all along?

The Senior Patrol Leader, using the skills he’s acquired, trains the ASPLs and the Patrol Leaders in their duties and gives them the responsibility to run their patrols with the tools they have and have learned. Eventually the Patrol Leaders gain the experience and confidence to move up the ladder and become troop leaders, and the cycle repeats. Even within a patrol, it’s the job of the Patrol Leader to give responsibility to those within the patrol to own and execute essential functions (such as patrol quartermaster or grubmaster) that, without which, the patrol would not function as a patrol (or at least the way a patrol is supposed to function). That’s leadership in action – creating more leaders!

Ralph Nader said it best when he said “I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders – not more followers.”  If we keep that concept in mind, our path to developing youth leadership becomes much more clear, and we have the courage to take the steps needed to make youth leadership a reality.


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