Unit 5: What is Leadership?

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This unit is designed to get you to start thinking about what leadership is in your group. Keep in mind, leadership may look different in different groups and ensembles. Orchestra and band may view leadership in very different ways even though they are similar courses.

I wish there was a simple answer to the question “what is leadership?”. I want there to be a clear-cut and straight-forward way to explain this highly complex and individual process. I dream of a simple and easily understood guide from which to judge someone’s leadership performance, a unified rubric and a set of character traits that could apply to all countries, cultures, and people. I think I will be wishing for a while longer.

In the past 100 years there have been enough books written on what we THINK about leadership to fill the entire library. Despite this, what we KNOW about leadership would easily fit into a small bookshelf In this chapter, we will begin to explore some commonly held leadership beliefs and see how these beliefs match up with your personal ideologies.

I believe that leadership is situational and depends on the people involved and the context of the setting. Just as there are no two people that are identical, there are no two leadership styles that are identical. The context of the setting also has a great deal to do with the character of the leader. I do not believe the same leadership rules apply for a combat soldier as a drum major in a high school marching band. The President of the United States should not view leadership the same as a religious leader might. To my way of thinking, there are as many ways to lead as there are people to be led.

This chapter is designed to help you get to the essence of what you believe about student leadership and how it applies to your group. Keep in mind, as you grow and evolve, and as your group changes, so will your beliefs. Student leadership, like everything else in life, is a dynamic and ever-evolving pursuit. As you grow and change, so will your beliefs. While it is important to have conviction in your beliefs, it is equally important to not become mired in them like quicksand.

LEADERSHIP TIP: Titles are easier to create than leaders, so focus less on your title and more on your role as a leader.

Don’t forget to download the course materials prior to starting and share your thoughts and ideas in the discussion box below.

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