Learning to be a leader

  • Safety
  • Enjoyment
  • Achievement
  • What makes a leader?

An apprentice stonemason does not begin to learn the trade by first building a soaring cathedral. Cleaning up the rubble or perhaps sharpening the tools may be a more appropriate place to start. Similarly, the pathway to good leadership begins with the basic skills and slowly progresses to more advanced capabilities.

Your own journey along the pathway to becoming a leader should be conscious and directed. First of all you must be capable of completing as a group member the types of trips you imagine leading. Your technical skills and physical fitness should allow you to comfortably participate in the type of trips you wish to lead. Only then can you concentrate on the tasks of leadership. If basic survival tasks, such as pitching your own tent or coping with inclement weather push you to your limits, then you are probably not yet ready to assume the sometimes onerous task of leadership.

The many aspects of an outdoor experience can be viewed as pieces of a jigsaw. It is your job as a leader to shape these pieces and fit them together to create an experience that satisfies the participants. Three important pieces of this jigsaw are safety, enjoyment and achievement. Shaping each of these pieces so that they fit together to create the desired experience for your group can be both a challenging and rewarding task. Risk, when understood and dealt with wisely, can add that spice which encourages people to push that bit harder and achieve at their peak ability. The subject of risk was discussed in Chapter 6, and also in more detail in Martin and Priest (1986).