What is a Leader?
Are you a manager or a leader?
Have you ever had one of those quotes that just sticks with you? The kind of quote that you read in a magazine, on a billboard, or in an article and it makes you stop in your tracks and reflect? This quote did that to me:
“You manage things; you lead people.”
– Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper
I began to look into the life of this extraordinary woman. In her retirement speech, instead of remarking on her past accomplishments and successes – the list is long and impressive – she instead stressed the importance of leadership. “Our young people are the future. We must provide for them. We must give them the positive leadership they’re looking for.”
Thinking through these statements, I paused for a moment and thought that I am doing just that. Right? I manage a youth leadership program in the summer for high school students and train them on the challenges and successes of our community. I then looked at my husband, who is a high school educator and head baseball coach, and thought he does that too. Right? After all, he teaches our youth every day and motivates student athletes on and off the field. But when I am left to ponder the question, I cannot help but wonder if I am truly leading and inspiring these young people.
Are we just managing the efforts that our youth are putting forth or are we truly leading the next generation?
The youth in our community are bright, interactive, and understand the meaning of servant leadership – more than I ever did at that age. Many of them are required to complete 100- 250+ hours of community service prior to completion of their high school education. Youth volunteering has increased steadily over the past ten years, with 30% of youth participating in volunteer activities at least once a month. The thing that excites me the most is the fact that when our youth volunteer, adults tend to volunteer also. Youth who volunteer just one hour or more a week are 50% less likely to abuse alcohol, cigarettes, or engage in other destructive behavior. It is so important to take the time, any amount of time, and invest it with our youth.
Many leaders in our community take time out of their busy schedules to invest in our future leaders. For example, Mayor Troy Trulock has coached youth sports – between baseball, basketball and soccer, this leader has coached 70 teams! He organizes and hosts leadership and education camps on Redstone Arsenal and helps provide funding to organizations such as U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Sci-Quest and the Challenge program with Leadership Huntsville/Madison County. But, the key word in all of this is “invest”. He takes the time and really gets to know these students and future leaders. He leads them. He does not manage them.
I commend anyone that stops and donates their time, passion and resources to the youth in our community. Anyone that does this is a good leader in my book. However, the ones that truly invest and lead these youth to become inspired and take on life’s challenges are my heroes. They are the difference between a good leader and a great leader.
We must lead our youth to serve, not just manage their efforts and tell them what to do. After all, our future Mayor, Superintendent, School Board Member, Police Chief, Senator and/or President could be a teenager in our community right now.
Cassie Watson Scott, C-9, L-27, ALI
VP, Business Development and Programs
Leadership Huntsville/Madison County