Bring People Along

Gay in High School

[JUNE 21, 2022 – BLOG] Some leadership lessons come early in life and when I was in high school, I made a serious blunder. Although I was the elected “Captain” and leader of the Liberty High School drill team, I failed to do something key when leading a great team. Let me explain, because we can all learn from this story.

You can see me in the photo above, I am literally front and center. I loved the role of The Panther Prancer Captain. It was an honor and obligation to take on a group of young women and shape them into a precision dance and marching squad. Like most things I had done thus far in my life, I wanted us to be the best in the history of the program. I pushed the girls to work harder, practice more, make their grades and earn extra money through bake sales and bike rides to afford more elaborate costumes and props so that when we performed we dazzled.

My expectations were extremely high and I put up with no nonsense or excuses. I had the power to give “demerits” or reprimand students if they didn’t do what was expected. And, with enough demerits in any given week, one could lose her chance to perform at the Friday night football game, which in my hometown was the pinnacle of the week. In fact, it used to be said that if you weren’t at the Friday night game, you must be in jail!

The Prancers did perform well. We won competitions all over the state, and literally became a formidable force in the drill team world of Texas. But, by the end of it all, everyone on the team despised me. So much so, that when a nice article was written about me in the high school newspaper, they shredded it and stuffed my locker with it along with some scathing comments.

My mistake was that I had become a dictator. A top down leader who didn’t motivate people to take ownership of themselves for the team and want to create their own paths to success. As they say, it was my way or the highway. I failed to “bring people along.”

Since then I have had the joy of leading teams who governed up rather than me ruling from ‘on high.’ I’ve tried to empower others to be the best they could be because they wanted it, not just to feed my ego and expectations.

Inspirational leadership is a wonderful thing to aspire to achieve. When your teams create things beyond what you’ve dreamed because you’ve gotten out of the way when you needed to, and when you have given them the opportunity to take pride in their own accomplishments, you have truly earned the title of leader.

Lead with inspiration and don’t forget to bring people along…

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Gay Gaddis
Founder. Author. Artist. Trailblazer.

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