Leadership and Teamwork

Are leadership and teamwork interchangeable? Do they go hand in hand? Or are they separate skill sets?

Good teams have good leaders. But good leaders require good teams to forge forward and make an impact. And who is the leader – the one who is cheering others on, lending a hand, or is it the person who organized the activity, chose a goal and got everyone involved?

Leaders need to persevere, know their field exceptionally well, and demonstrate commitment, curiosity, empathy and focus. Good teams also demonstrate empathy and have a shared goal, and need to persevere in order to achieve said goal, and if they aren’t curious, then why bother in the first place?

At Bark Lake Leadership Centre and Camp Kawartha this week, leadership and teamwork were evident in multiple milieu.

As Grade 7 and 8 students engaged in the high ropes activity, the lines between leadership and teamwork became very blurred. At one moment, as students climbed to the summit of the tower, they were being cheered on by their classmates, being belayed, while others made recommendations for hand placement and footing. The very next minute, throughout the forest, one could hear, “trust me, grab my hand, move your foot there, shift your weight, I’ve got you…”

Grade 5 and 6 students sat family-style for meals. A cabin of students was assigned set up duty while another took care of clean up – which included dishwashing. During dinner, the hopper brought the food to and from the table and then scraped and stacked dishes. That required teamwork. But is that not also a sign of leadership? If leadership is about effective communication (pass your plates, stack them this way), working towards a shared goal (eating a meal together, tidying up), and solving problems as they emerge (I don’t like what they are serving, what should I do?), then these students are demonstrating their leadership potential.

The Junior School Leadership Framework, developed by a dedicated crew of teachers and Mr. Powles, thoughtfully, intentionally and explicitly lays the groundwork for successful leadership and teamwork. A particular area of emphasis is leadership and service learning. The goal is to develop lifelong leadership skills and shared values for responsible, active and compassionate citizenship.

As students move through the Junior School, leadership and service opportunities are frequent and meaningful. These help students to develop critical skills such as communication, teamwork, organization and an understanding of different leadership styles. The leadership program begins with individual accountability, whereby students lead first through their daily actions. Working closely with their teachers, students undertake formal leadership responsibilities and, in doing so, build an awareness of the core values of leadership, including: commitment, responsibility, initiative, vision, compassion and enthusiasm. As students progress through the curriculum of the Junior School, they also progress through a continuum of leadership development in the following areas: service learning; co-curricular and athletics; sustainability and the environment; and school stewardships. (Life in Boulden, page 7)

Good teams do need good leaders. But good leaders are those who are able to also be a part of the team. And good teams have members that step up as leaders when it is needed.

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