schoolyard leadership.

I drove by an elementary school today and watched the kids on the playground. Groups formed, small and large. Some kids took the lead, others followed along.

I remember, I was quiet and one of the smaller kids… usually, going with the flow… certainly not taking charge. But it wasn’t lost on me that big kid – strong, forceful, demanding, confident – often got his way. As a child, that’s what I thought leaders were all about… and then, I grew up.

Here is a short list of:

What I remembered thinking as a wanna-be leader,

what I ultimately learned was true, and

what I’ve seen the best leaders do.


“I want to be a leader.”

Leadership is earned, not granted

Help others be their best.


“I want people to follow me.”

Nobody follows “I” and “me”.

Form a team around “we”.


“I want to be in charge.”

Power flows to wisdom, not position.

Learn from every moment, especially the rough ones.


“I want people to respect me.”

Respect is given, not taken.

Honor the spirit, style, and insight of those around you.


“I want people to listen to me.”

Stop talking.

Listen first… then listen some more.


“I want to win.”

We all want to win.

Be determined and passionate; expect the same from others.


“I want it now!”

Be urgent, not frantic.

Understand success isn’t a moment… it’s a “state of being”, and it takes time.


We all find ourselves in leadership roles… in our family, community, and work groups. We’re constantly trying to make things better for those around us.  What did I miss in the list?

Keep believing in better!

4 thoughts on “schoolyard leadership.

  1. A few things to add to the list:
    Leaders have no age requirement
    Leaders can be any gender
    Leaders know how to connect with their team (work and personal)
    Leaders empower other to lead
    Leaders don’t always have to be the leader


  2. As I transitioned from peer to leader at times I felt awkward, however I kept repeating in my mind “just be you..”. Reminding myself that my peers supported me in the transition from peer to leader so if I was anything but authentic, I would be doing them an injustice. From my perspective, if you want to be a leader you’ve got to “just be you” and do your best not to deviate.

    Liked by 1 person

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