Leadership: The Lifeboat Exercise
Discussing the many different expectations that people have from a leader, it's clear that there isn't one clear definition that everyone can agree on. People expect leaders to be assertive, domineering, yet caring, sympathetic and understanding. People need motivation and guidance to tell them where to go and how to get there. A leader needs to make sure his ideas and directions are properly conveyed and are understood by his followers. The lifeboat exercise was very effective as it showed that everyone had their own criteria for a leader which needed to be fulfilled.
In the exercise itself, I felt that it was essential that the leader and deputy needed to have complimentary skills. In a precarious situation like a sinking ship, it is important to have a decisive and calm thinker who can make an informed decision based on experience. However, the emotional needs of the rest of the people on the ship cannot be ignored. Also, it was important to remember that, regardless of who was appointed leader and deputy, everyone would still be on the boat. While certain people may have valuable skills that doesn't necessarily qualify them to become leaders. This is why my team felt that having Roger and Lyn as leader and deputy respectively would give the rest of the team a better chance of survival. Roger's vast naval experience and Lyn's assertive nature coupled with her ability to provide emotional support would improve the passengers' chances of being rescued.
I think that different criterion people choose to use in defining leadership has the danger of creating stereotypes. Tega asked me a very interesting question, if Roger was on a wheel chair, would people have over-looked that and picked him to lead?He seemed effective and experienced, but in the real world, followers can be extremely picky and even irrational at times. Indeed a leader is different things to different people but stereotypes ought to be evaluated.
31 Jan 2012, 18:36
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