Does Leadership Come From “Yes” or “No”?

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I believe leadership comes from no because its easy to say yes, but it takes a true leader to say no. Its just like if someone in your group asks all these questions to try to put the puzzle together before they even start. If the leader keeps spoon-feeding them the answers and clues on how to complete it then the group member has learned nothing. That’s why one of my favorite things to say is “You have been given everything you need to know to complete this task.” This makes the group critically think of creative ideas on how to complete the tasks within the assigned rules or regulations. This makes the group collaborate and share different ideas, giving them a sense of self-accomplishment and the skill to try new things. Being the leader to say no this is not okay or to have constructive criticism is a very important skill leaders should possess. This is what groups look for to improve their character and thought processes.

One of my proudest moments as a leader is when our coach for cheerleading was at a meeting and left the captains to be in charge of the practice. We decided to have everyone run through one of the rounds with full expressions, effort, and like they would during competition day. It was the day before our biggest competition so the pressure was on. We all ran it through a couple of times, took a break, then decided to split up into groups so we can critique each other. Just like judges, the group watching needs to watch for the littlest mistakes or off time skills. One of the girls in the group performing wasn’t putting her full effort in and acting like this was a joke. Every captain and the group of girls watching found this disrespectful and felt the need to yell at her. They continuously kept yelling at her throughout the routine and breaking her motives down. As I sat there letting this happen, I could see her start to break down. I knew she probably just was having a bad day or something else happened that made her act this way because she usually is a hard worker. I knew I had to do something before she quit and walked out the door. I stood up, graved her hand, and took her outside of the situation/room. I quickly comforted her and told her that everything they were doing in there was wrong. This doesn’t make you in the right though either. I told her she does need to put more effort into this practice but that I will not let everyone else pound on her every move. I could see the damage to her self-esteem and passion in cheerleading deteriorate. She understood, gathered herself, and walked back in there putting more effort into that practice then everyone else. I knew right then and there that I was made to be a leader. To step up and say no when everyone else thinks its okay to say yes. When its the easiest way to say yes, leadership is about saying no to do the right thing in the situation.

Rosa Parks refused to obey the bus driver’s order to give up her seat to a white passenger in the black section of the bus. The bus driver has the authority to assign seats but didn’t give them the authority to demand a passenger to give up a seat to anyone (regardless of color). She was “tired of giving in” and decided to stand up for something she believed in that was wrong and said “no” after a long day at work. Rosa Parks said no when everyone else was saying yes because it was the easier option. She became an openly strong leader who spurred a boycott that has changed our views on segregation today. She did something so little at the time but had such a huge impact by just saying “no.”

Rosa Parks story and mine, show how leaders should give people the benefit of the doubt. That leaders should say “no” when something is wrong or uncivilized. To understand when someone has had a long day and that they have good intentions. And to not attack someone no matter what authority you think you have over them. That leadership comes from saying “no” when everyone else is saying “yes”.

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