I believe that anyone can be a leader if they know how to follow.
Leaders can be followers and followers can be leaders. To find which one I am was not hard. Starting in elementary, continuing through middle school even into sophomore year I could be seen in the front of the room, away from the rest of the students in the back. When it came to working in groups I followed what everybody else was doing, even if I knew it was wrong.
Since then I have discovered that I am capable of leadership with the help of several fortunate experiences. One occurred the summer between sophomore and junior year. I was chosen to attend SLS (Summer Leadership School) on the campus of University Central Missouri and Whiteman Air Force Base. Participants were seperated into different flights with cadets from other schools. Each of us was given a chance to lead the flight for a day. Throughout the week we were down there, we were given different challenges to accomplish. I learned that when given the chance, anyone can lead with the cooperation of the followers.
Another opportunity that I recieved that only 1000 other Missourian boys had a chance to attend was the American Legion Missouri Boy State. There we had plenty of leadership and communication learning experiences. We built our own state government in eight days. This gave me more confidence in myself in meeting others and leading. I served as police chief of our city keeping the crime from entering.
The biggest event that helped me with my leadership skills is AFJROTC. Through my courses with Sergeant McGown and Major Bekebrede I have learned of different types of leadership. For example there is autocratic, democratic, and delegative or free rein. From leading the cadets from my corps I have come to realize that I lead by a democratic type leadership. This means I get input from my cadets before I make a decision no matter how crucial. I believe in this leadership style because it gives the followers the opportunity to have a say with the decision that I may be planning on.
I have had many opportunities to lead my peers. I look at this as a challenge to show that a follower can truly become an excellent leader when given the chance to do so. As General George S. Patton once said, “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”
Being a follower served me well as I’ve worked to become a leader. I’ve witnessed several leaders that I used as both positive and negative examples. I still prefer the front of the class, but I no longer sit silent. Now I lead.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.