I define leadership as one of the statuses that is created in a group of people in the process of functioning and relating with each other. Leadership is the concentration of power, authority, responsibility and initiative in the hands of one person or a selected group of people. Leaders can be self-appointed, i.e., when one captures power or merely takes the initiative because no one else wants to have it together with the enhanced responsibility. Leaders can also be appointed by the group on account of their experience, outstanding reputation, professional skills, connections or other distinctive characteristics of value and competency.
Leadership, therefore, is based upon the advantage that positions an individual in a competitive and attractive way in the eyes of other members of the group; it is also his or her willingness to take responsibility to form a team and manage it. Leadership is created in the process of communication and interaction in a group that allows its members to evaluate and compare each other’s skills and characters. I think that only when a leader is formed the group starts to function properly. Without a leader, there is no coordination. Anyone can do whatever he/she wants or refuse to participate in joint activities.
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Whenever people fancy a common goal and intend to do something together, they have to choose a leader who will plan and structure activities and distribute tasks between the members of the team. This will give everyone a specific place and the duty to do. A leader should also inspire everyone to do job well and at the proper time. A leader combines the individual results into a common effort and mutual performance. If a team is working for some reward or benefits, then the leader should evaluate the contribution of each member of the group and fairly distribute rewards and praises. It is also important to note that, in the end, a leader is accountable for the success of failure of his or her team. It is a rule of life that, if anything goes wrong, everyone will blame the one who was running the process.
A leader is a valuable source of inspiration. Everyone expects a leader to generate ideas and offer them to the group. A leader is a reliable person but not always a friend. Even if a leader is open and sharing, you would always perceive some distance in status that he or she would maintain. It is a person, who can solve problems and take into account the interests of all members of the group, or at least he/she tries to do so. You can seek his or her help in any situation. In my environment, leaders are always in the center of attention. They have high authority and are respected by peers and seniors. For the most part, leaders are popular and charismatic individuals, or just someone whom everybody else is afraid of.
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I think a leader should possess such qualities as self-respect, confidence, courage, vigor, and respect for others, perseverance, rationality, practicality, intelligence, diplomacy, and a good sense of humor.
Being a leader is not an easy task. However, I did not understand the enormousness of this challenge until I had my own memorable leadership experience. My task was simple. A teacher appointed me to lead a project group of my class-mates. The projects goals were clear. I quickly divided them into portions and distributed among the group members. Everyone seemed to understand the task and willing to work on it. Therefore, I quickly did my part and expected everyone to submit their results ahead of the deadline. At this point, problems started. Some members of the project team claimed they could not find enough time to focus on the project, others said they could not do their part because they either did not understand it or found it too difficult. I was frustrating, because these claims seemed empty to me. Other members of the group were discouraged by the reluctance of their fellow class-mates to engage in the teamwork and stopped working on their parts of the task. There seemed nothing else to do, but to complete the job on my own. It was easier than to persuade my team-mates to perform. Of course, I could not achieve excellent results by doing everything almost by myself. However, as a leader I felt responsible for not failing the project.
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I understand that my current perception of leadership is very subjective and based upon nothing but personal experience. This is not enough to be an efficient leader. I anticipate the Teen Leadership Summit will strengthen my leadership skills by giving me a professional understanding of the concept of leadership and its practical application. I know what a leader should do, but I do not know the mechanism of achieving good leadership results. I would like to learn how to motivate people and to deal with someone, who refuses to comply with my leadership, how to develop leadership qualities, to control emotions, what to do when things go wrong, and how to manage numerous conflicts that emerge in the process of collaboration. I am sure there are some hidden milestones of leadership, which I do not suspect of at the moment, but hope to learn during the Teen Leadership Summit.
2. In the White House report, “Strengthening Our Families: Meeting America’s Commitment”, the President has made care and support of military families a top national security policy priority. As youth representatives, we can provide solutions to this issue at local, regional and national levels. We can address the following aspects of this policy:
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– assist civilian family members in accommodating and securing rewarding and full-fledged lifestyles;
– expanding the nation-wide understanding and acknowledgement of the invaluable service that soldiers and their families provide to our country by ensuring homeland safety and protecting the democratic values worldwide.
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