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hops_scout

Qualities of Leadership

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Hey guys, need a little assistance here. As many of you know, I am approaching scholarship and college admissions times. I'm working on my first scholarship essay. This is thru a program called the National Council for Youth Leaders. I was given 4 topics and I have to choose one and write a 2-3 hundred word essay on it. My chosen topic is this:

 

"What qualities of leadership do you think are most important?"

 

Here is some brainstorming I've done and some of my ideas so far. Any help would be great:)

 

-setting goals

-listening

-requesting rather than demanding

-leading by example

-staying under control

-not acting superior

-positive, constructive criticism

-not being a hypocrit

-being chosen; not assumed

-understanding the situation

-accepting responsibility

-being prepared (not just a connection to Scouting, but Scouting is where I was taught this quality)

-able to explain decisions

 

I have to come up with the most important and that is where I would request some help. I think they are all important, but listing all of them would be waaaaay to long and may be a little boring.

 

Little backround for those who don't know:

I am currently a Star Scout who has served as nearly every position in the Scout Troop. I have been through Junior Leader Training as well as through the Troop JLT. I currently serving as a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster after serving a term as SPL. I have been on staff at a National Jamboree. Also, I play catcher on the baseball field as well as held other leadership positions at school in clubs and such. I have the desire to serve this great nation and hope/intend to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point and become an officer in the U.S. Army.

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Couple Suggestions.

 

For your essay, make sure you just focus on two or three of the attributes and explain them well. You might want to think about adding "delegating" as well.

 

May I also suggest you look at a few ROTC units since you want to be an army officer. It can be a fall back option if you don't get into the service academy. Many guys prefer it to West Point as it is a lot more fun before your career, as I can testify as I am currently a ROTC cadet. Either way you end up with the same commission.

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hops-scout,

 

It's great that you are pursuing scholarships like this one. Just a couple of things to keep in mind from someone who reads a lot of college applications and scholarship essays.

 

TheScout gave you good advice; focus on a couple of items rather than a laundry list. 200-300 words isn't very much and it is often harder to write a good, short essay than a good, long essay. It might also help you to think about specific examples based on your own leadership experiences. Use those to help you focus and to flesh out how or why you think whatever characteristics you pick are so important.

 

Expect to write a few (or many) drafts and bounce them off of someone whose writing ability and logical thought process you respect. Sometimes what seems clear to you (in your head) won't be clear to others (on paper). Take their feedback as a gift even when it isn't what you wanted to hear.

 

Make sure you spell check AND proof-read. Example: The difference between "public" with and without the "l" won't get caught by the spell checker but it sure will get caught by the person reading your application - and that's not how you want them to remember you after they've read hundreds of other essays! It is probably a good idea to have someone else read through it for you one last time (after you do your own proof reading) to make sure there are no mistakes that you've missed. I know this sounds like a no-brainer but you'd be stunned to discover how many people either do not proof-read their work at all, or who do a very poor job of it.

 

Good luck to you and let us know how things turn out!

 

Lisa

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Thanks guys... not exactly what I was looking for;) but still advice is a good thing. Yeah Lisabob, I just looked at a research paper I had written about the Boy Scouts last semester and it only covered 3 items, but spanned nearly 1500 words! 200 words is going to be hard to get everything in there, yet not go over the 300.

 

So, let me rephrase this: What do you guys think are the most important qualities? I have my list and I'll share tomorrow when I get it narrowed down enough. Let me know what you think please.

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hey hops, I really wish you all the best but...nope, I'm not going to tell you what *I* think is most important in a leader because a) it is your application not mine and b) it is a lot harder to sell someone else's ideas convincingly than to sell your own views convincingly - and that matters and may well be telegraphed to your audience (reader) in this situation.

 

hope you understand where I'm coming from on that one.

 

Lisa'bob

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I do understand where you're coming from.. this thread is intended more as research than anything else. My information tells me I'm supposed to use personal interviews and examples, etc. I'm conducting an interview;) as best as doable online.

 

Also, I wanted to make sure I had all the qualities of a leader so I could choose the ones that are Most Important rather than the ones I think of.

 

Whatever:)

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Hi Hops,

200 OR 300 words is going to be tough!!

I use more than that to order breakfast.

I have to admit to not really understanding what help you are asking for?

 

"What qualities of leadership do you think are most important?"

I love that you have included Listening.

I kind of like "positive, constructive criticism " but maybe Feedback would be a better word?

To my way of thinking many of the best leaders have been great communicators.

Communication is a very important leadership skill.

A little while back I was in a Doctors office and picked up a magazine. I don't remember the name of it, but it was a kind of Trade Mag, put out by companies that sell equipment to the military. Inside there was all sorts of specifications about boats and helicopters. Most of which went way above my head.

There was however a really good article about the things we could have done better in the war in Iraq.

One thing it said we needed and didn't have was enough people who spoke the language. It said that many of the interpreters were unreliable and the guys we had training the Iraq army were finding it really tough not being able to talk or communicate with the people they were training.

At the risk of starting a big forum debate about which leaders were the best communicators, I think if you look at Winston Churchill, Ronald Regan, JFK and the speeches made by George W. Bush after 9/11. You will see some great communication at work.

While I also like the goal setting idea, I think it's important that a leader has a really good understanding of the vision and mission in order to make sure the goals are taking him in the right direction.

I would add "Good personal Values" to the list.

As for "requesting rather than demanding " At times we do need to make demands, so I'd go careful with that one.

I'm not sure if this is what you were looking for? Or if it is of any help?

Eamonn.

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hops_scout,

 

Keep up the great job! We need leaders like you in the future. Just a couple of suggestions:

 

-requesting rather than demanding

-not acting superior

 

Be careful with these two topics if you are applying to a military academy as they will be training you to be an officer where there will be times you will need to demand instead of request. You are also expected to act superior as an officer. (Observations from someone with 24 years in the military). However, if you did use the first idea you could explore when to request and when to demand, adjusting your leadership style to fit the situation and people etc... Could be a very good topic.

 

 

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Herms, those are both good points and I find that both of those ideas are sometimes difficult to put into words and describe all that well. I'll try explaining my train of thought..

 

-requesting rather than demanding.

I feel that in many cases you are going to get more respect from a person if you were to request, ask, or politely tell them to do it rather than to order said individual around constantly. I have experienced this in Scouts as well as a few other situations. Of course, there are also a few instances in which demanding is required. I feel though that there are few and are normally far and wide in between. An example of that would be such as an accident or if there is a chance for an accident. "Slow down going down the hill" is such a case where I would "demand" instead of ask.

 

-not acting superior

Again, I feel you are going to get more respect if you, as a leader, feel more as a part of the team rather than an individual above the rest of the team.

 

I know that being a leader is not always about being someone's friend. In the military, most enlisted would say that they hate their superior officers and that's not going to change anytime soon. The barking of orders and all sorts of yelling and such definitely don't make somebody feel all happy inside;)

 

I would also consider the military to be totally different when it protocol and many leadership styles are going to be radically different. I'll find out in a couple years when I actually experience it. Right now, I'm just an outsider looking in so I really don't know:)

 

I've got it narrowed down and divided up quite a bit and I'll post that afterwhile once I get some of the actual essay written.

 

Thanks guys.

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What do you guys think are the most important qualities [of leadership]?

 

The Scouts who follow a good leader are able to keep themselves well fed, dry in a rainstorm, safe, warm, and always cheerful. That's about it, the rest is padding.

 

Think of what you have experienced with your own five senses (not from your training) and make a list of all the tiny but real details of what over the years you have seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted when your Scouts were unaware of your leadership.

 

When you have at least ten real and not abstract moments that reflect that the boys under your leadership had bonded as a team (if only for a few hours) and had taken over leadership themselves without even realizing it was due to your light-handed touch and ability to step back at the right time, then all of that abstract "leadership" theory stuff will write itself.

 

Start with your senses and not with your thoughts.

 

Kudu

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Hey Hops,

 

Many moons ago and in many leadership trainings, this is what I was taught and I still use it in our JLT. These are things that I teach our junior leaders so I don't mind sharing it with you; however, Kudu makes great points. Look at yourself and your experience and extrapolate from there.

 

 

But here are the points in our JLT:

 

A boss drives people - a leader coaches them

A boss depends on authority - a leader depends on good will.

A boss inspires fear - a leader inspires enthusiasm.

A boss says I - a leader says we.

A boss fixes blame - a leader fixes the breakdown.

A boss knows how it is done - a leader shows how it is done.

A boss says go- a leader says shall we proceed

A boss speaks of processes and procedures - a leader speaks of goals and visions.

A boss manages people - a leader leads followers.

A boss worries about times and tasks - a leader worries about plans and people.

A boss needs a control structure - a leader requires visibility, credibility and integrity.

A boss monitors people - a leader inspires them.

A boss suffers over failures - a leader learns from them.

A boss manages the present - a leader focuses on the future.

A boss enforces rules - a leader promotes values.

A boss has employees - a leader wins followers.

A boss performs tasks - a leader seizes opportunities.

A boss solves problems - a leader facilitates team members in resolving problems.

A boss tells people "work smarter, not harder" - a leader leads his followers to the fulfillment of their potentials: from where they are to where they could be.

A boss delegates project- a leader delegates authority.

 

Finally, but not lastly,

 

A boss is created out of necessity at any time - a leader is borned out of respect over time.

 

Good luck,

 

1Hour

 

ps: These are ideals in a "perfect" leader's world. In a Patrol Method's world as well as in the real working world, a lot of times, being "a boss" is needed to get things done while elements of "a good leader" are great goals to strive for!(This message has been edited by OneHour)

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For what it's worth, my son wrote his essay about honor, then branched out from there. On the order of... "On my honor... and you can stop there, because all the rest follows." Then he listed some of the qualities he felt were most important, but came back to, "If you have honor, you cover all the rest."

 

Something worked...he got into a Service Academy. ;)

 

If you are looking to an Academy now, you may contact my by pm and I would be glad to share critiques & advice that were helpful to my son.

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- Organization

 

The leader needs to be organized in his planning to properly understand the people and tasks he is involved with. He needs to be organized in his thinking to communicate effectively, and he needs to be organized in his own life to have time to be available for leadership.

 

Of course, this is in addition to the others. There isn't just one quality of leadership.

 

DonM

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Later than I expected to reply, but here's where I'm at right now. Feel free to give any advice you got.

 

Thesis statement

Leaders come in many forms, but all leaders must possess certain qualities.

 

Understanding the Situation

-listening

-request/demand

-Feedback

-prepared

 

Responsibility

-delegation (good idea whoever thought of it;))

-able to explain decisions

-goals

-control

 

Basically what I did was to combine some of your ideas with what I had on paper and then group them even more as best as I could.

 

Thanks for the help so far; feel free to pitch in anything else.

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