Leadership is not about to be the "Boss".
My elbows are propped up on the table while my half lidded eyes face the front. Everyone else around the room is in similar states of lethargy – one lady is fiddling with her keys, another man is doodling on a scrap of paper and others are picking at the hems of their sleeves. The committee heads stand at the front of the room. Their voices drone on for eons before the meeting gets down to business. Systematically, we each stand up to give our report. With each person, the race towards June gains a little more progress. Then the baton is handed to me and I stand up to present my report.
Last year, I volunteered to be the entertainment and activities chair for the Highline Relay for Life planning committee on behalf of my Key Club. It was the first year in which the position was not shared with another person. I made the mistake of assuming the preparations for entertainment would be similar to the preparations from the year before. It was not. Not only did I not have another person to help shoulder the work, but the people I had come to depend upon for planning out the event's entertainment and activities had already graduated. My confidence in the success of this aspect of the event was shaken from the start. I began the preparations last November feeling lost.
Nonetheless, I had taken up this mantle and it was a job I intended on doing as best I could. Half of Key Club worked with me and the other half fund raised money for the event. Though I tended to be one of the more reserved members, this was not true for the rest. My fellow club members were boisterous, talkative and their attentions switched from business to gossip at the blink of an eye. They were extremely hard to control and even harder to make focus. Once when the club split to discuss their respective parts in the Relay, silence reigned for five minutes. To encourage discussion, I asked them what activities they think other people would enjoy. A few minutes of excited suggestions were flung at me; my pen nearly flung out of my hand with how fast I had to write to keep up. Yet, the brain explosion was short-lived and the group soon fell back into its silent state of apathy. One of the fund raisers yelled something to one of my group members from across the room. Shouted replies soon sailed back and forth as more and more joined in. The club meeting quickly descended into chaos and the number of people whose attention I had in my grasp dwindled to two.
The two who stayed with me took on the harder task of gathering performers. Hearing their progress reassured me enough to trust them to be able to work without supervision. As for the rest of the group, I switched tactics in January. I realized that my group was just not suited to sitting down and talking, discussing or communicating unless I facilitated. It just wouldn't work because they would be talking to me and not to each other. In the end, I took the hodgepodge of ideas and refined it with some help from our club adviser. When all the logistics and details were figured out, all that was left was to get the activities going on the day of Relay. My group responded much better to being told specifically what to do, when to do it and how to do it. I left the organizing of activities to those who did not contribute to the planning and it went as smooth as one could expect of teenagers with an endless supply of energy.
From November to when the event occurred in June I tried my very hardest to not get angry. I had to force myself to redirect the mounting frustration before it turned into rage. I had to learn how to be understanding, patient and gentle at the same time. It was incredibly difficult and more than once I wanted to quit. Leading a group isn't easy. Sometimes it's frustrating. Sometimes it's exasperating. Sometimes the urge to cry or scream is overwhelming. Sometimes you join the group in getting sidetracked without realizing it. Sometimes it's productive, but more often it is a chaotic scramble to find something for the group member who has nothing to do before he wanders off into their own daydreams. Leading a group isn't about being at the head of everyone else; it's a constant balancing act between so many spinning plates that focusing on one will make all the others topple. It's about directing and nagging and watching and guiding.
Written by: PLV - Edited by: vha08
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- Tuition & Fee: $9,250 per year
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