“Leadership” is a fuzzy term to many, and quite possibly because it may manifest in many different ways. I find that many difficulties in teaching leadership to young people lie in the abstractedness of the concept. That’s why I was excited to learn about the UF Leadership Competencies Model.
While the complete model is perhaps a bit more deep for the average 4-H member’s leadership experiences (but probably not for yours) the foundation of the model- Build Trust, Create and Communicate Vision, Generate Alignment and Cultivate Talent create a concrete framework with which to approach leadership.
Build Trust: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I tell new 4-H faculty- your first year is all about building relationships. It’s also about asking questions, and really listening. Your second year is about action. I believe this is the case in any team. As a leader its critical that you build relationships with your team. Get to know them as team members and get to know them as human beings. From there you will build the emotional bank account necessary to make withdrawals from later when you need them.
Create and Communicate a Vision: Not only must a leader have a vision for where he/she is taking a team, but perhaps more importantly the leader must be able to communicate that vision to the team. Not just once, not just twice, but repeatedly. Everyone on a team should be able to clearly articulate where the team is headed. Help them help you.
Generate Alignment: Once the leader and/or team has established and committed to a vision, it is mission critical that all members of the team are headed in the same direction. Often this is what slows down otherwise successful teams. Place several really smart people on a team together, each going their own way, and you will get nowhere. Alignment is a process to be monitored on a regular basis. The “Four Disciplines of Execution” by McChesney, Huling, and Covey advocates for keeping a scoreboard to keep track of the actions of the team and how they contribute to meeting team goals. You can read more about this idea of keeping score in: Four Disciplines of Execution.
Cultivate Talent: Some may advocate this as the first step of this model, or the last, I would argue it is an overarching principle. When you build relationships with people one of the things you are trying to determine is where are their talents? What are the skill sets, abilities, etc. that they bring to the team and how can you capitalize on these talents. Using someone’s strengths leads to increased job satisfaction. Think about it- are you happier when doing something you with which you struggle? Personally, I like to do the things I’m good at.
Read more about the UF Leadership Competencies Model at: UF Leadership Competencies Model