This past summer I had the opportunity to represent Kentucky at the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Conference (HOBY), and further develop my skills as a leader within my school and community. We listened to several keynote speakers, including Carla Hall and Rainn Wilson!
Despite the many amazing friendships I took away from the conference, the most impactful thing I learned would have to of been the idea of flexible leadership. While an extremely simple concept to grasp, the idea has never occurred to me before. Before I attended HOBY, I took charge as a leader, making most of the decisions while accepting only my favorite ideas from others. I now recognize that I was doing it all wrong.
If you place yourself in another individual’s shoes, no one wants to share their ideas when they feel that they will be shot down, or told that they are incorrect. That is why some students do not raise their hands in class! It is just an instinct to fear failure. Flexible leadership teaches us that we must incorporate every idea being given in a discussion, no matter how unfavorable when compared to other pitched ideas, in order to maintain a safe energy in the discussion space. If negative remarks are made towards ANY ideas, then that safety barrier is broken, and you are no longer leading with your full potential. After all, you will have lost input from many individuals.
To all the empowering leaders out there, please keep flexible leadership in mind! If we can create safe spaces within our discussions as we lead, then the ideas will be much richer and far more abundant!