Author Topic: Creating new leaders  (Read 3563 times)

Offline lethalbeef

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Creating new leaders
« on: May 04, 2011, 10:59:07 AM »
Since a lot of community leaders have been around for a long time and trying to get everything off the ground and running smoothly, we often are the most knowledgable and connected members of any local community. I don't mean to sound arrogant but rather sort of burdened by the fact that it makes me one of the few leaders who have the expertise to help out new people.

But it brings to the fore the need of creating new leaders. I think a lot of us have become leaders out of a lack of leadership in the past; back when parkour was obscure, the communities were smaller, and the resources were limited, the only way we could get started was to just try it, and then spread what we knew to whoever else happened to come by. As things have grown, we've kind of accomodated it all, learned to be better leaders, learn better organization, etc. But personally I know I won't be able to play as big a part in the future, now that I'm out of college, now that I'm trying to teach more.

I'm lucky that there are a certain number of people that have happened to step up and get involved in organizing local stuff, and we have some great programs at SFPK like Area Representatives to embrace local leadership. There's still a lot more to do, though, and I think there are other equally effective ways to help people get more involved in the community. What are your guys' opionions or suggestions on creating strong leaders to assist you or replace you?

Offline Alec Furtado

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Re: Creating new leaders
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2011, 10:51:26 PM »
Well, let me say that you can only make someone a leader with his or her permission. It seems super obvious, but the true motivation for a leader to do what they do must come from within themselves. You can support them and mentor them as much as possible, but their own desires are what will keep them going while you're there and after you're gone.

That being said, IMO, you have to let leaders rise naturally. The first step is to build yourself as a leader. It's a well-understood principle that you attract the kind of people who you are. You can "convince" someone to take your leadership position, but if you have to, chances are they won't be around very long.

I feel that another important step is to make it apparent that there is a need for others to step up. Ask who wants to take charge on something, run a training session, setup and coordinate a jam, etc.. People will volunteer and you should mentor them along the way. Don't think they are "the one" though, as they are probably very unsure about it themselves. Just provide them the assistance and tips along the way while they stay at the wheel. You'll find people who like it.


My personally, I take the step of reading tons of PMA (positive mental attitude) and people skills books. It might seem like a crazy step for something like this, but I encourage it for everyone, just taking 15-20 minutes a day for it. Describe a problem/situation, I can probably give you a book for it. I want to start a book-club here but only if people express interest in it. I do have one in particular that is fantastic if you care to know.
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Offline Adam McC

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Re: Creating new leaders
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2011, 04:38:39 AM »
Yep. I've begun this process this season. I've been running my regular class for long enough that there are  now people who've been training with me and watching me teach for up to a couple of years. There's been a lot of people talking about a more advanced class. But I realized it's not more advanced training they're looking for, because they get that anytime they ask for it. It's learning how to teach and become a leader. So, I've begun a leadership class.

It's an open class, which means anybody can come in and join it. It's not invite only, because it's not up to me to decide who can or cannot be a leader. The nature of the class is difficult, and will weed out those not willing to put in the effort on its own. We spend half of the class focusing on the skill and knowledge aspect of leading, ensuring that the foundation of understanding and ability is there, and the other half of the class focusing on skills that rotate around leadership, including teaching methods for Parkour, techniques for leadership in general, and personal development.

I too have noticed a lack of good leadership out there, so hopefully these efforts will help branch out some good leaders.

It's a good system, it works smoothly, because people love to teach and to try to assume roles of responsibility. Anybody who's been at Parkour that long obviously loves a challenge, and taking on the responsibility of teaching and instructing is indeed an exciting responsibility. If you'd like more info on how I run the class, let me know and I'd be happy to talk to you about it.

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Offline lethalbeef

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Re: Creating new leaders
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2011, 04:03:35 PM »
Yeah, I'd like to hear about the class you're running. Do you call it a leadership class? Although I think that teaching and ability is important, it's not the fundamental part of being a leader, which is almost a skill on its own. How much do you focus on teaching? What ages are the people who are involved?

Offline Adam McC

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Re: Creating new leaders
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2011, 06:09:22 PM »
I do call it Leadership class. I want people to understand that the class isn't just about learning flips and cool moves and more conditioning. It's about becoming developing the skills of a leader, which as you said, are skills completely on their own.

The ages are 18-25 or so, right now. The focus is pretty strong on teaching. Lots of group activities. They'll create drills and lessons and progressions and routines and things for the rest of the class, taking turns fulfilling the role of teacher. They learn to plan, create, design, execute, and understand all that they do. It's going to be a long process before they have everything they need to teach on their own, but as it should be. It requires a lot of knowledge in a lot of fields, let alone the proper skill.

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Offline lethalbeef

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Re: Creating new leaders
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2011, 10:35:44 AM »
Then again Adam, there's a difference between teaching people to be leaders and facilitating people to organically become leaders. Do you know what I mean? I think it's important to help people learn to coach and understand leadership techniques but what I'm talking about is more like getting people to go outdoors and create their own parkour communities, etc. It sounds like your program is something that's designed to prime people for teaching parkour classes, which is really something different. Do the people in your leadership class go out to run jams in their own neighborhoods?

Offline Alec Furtado

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Re: Creating new leaders
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2011, 11:33:52 AM »
I hope we all understand how the quality/characteristic of leadership is different from the ability to teach. Just btw.

You can easily train someone how to teach. You can tell them what's what, which exercises to do when and how to do them. Developing leadership in them is totally different.
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Offline Adam McC

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Re: Creating new leaders
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2011, 06:13:08 PM »
Then again Adam, there's a difference between teaching people to be leaders and facilitating people to organically become leaders. Do you know what I mean? I think it's important to help people learn to coach and understand leadership techniques but what I'm talking about is more like getting people to go outdoors and create their own parkour communities, etc. It sounds like your program is something that's designed to prime people for teaching parkour classes, which is really something different. Do the people in your leadership class go out to run jams in their own neighborhoods?

That's my goal, yes. I am teaching them the skills and habits required to be completely independent and self-reliant in every way. Are they able to now? No, they aren't. Some are within their first year of training and have a lot of knowledge to gain, regardless of ability, before they can share it. And that's what the class is about. Step by step building their knowledge and their ability as leaders so that they can become self-reliant, and do what they feel is best. But yes, it's certainly more than just showing them exercises and drills. It's a creative process, where they develop and show -me- drills and exercises. They tell -me- how they want to plan the class. They talk to -me- and -each other- on the advantages and disadvantages of the environment and creative ways to use it. Once they have that ability to -tell me- what they think is best and what they plan to do, they don't need me anymore, and they can go off and host their own classes and jams and whatever they think is best. Then my goal is fulfilled, with that individual. I'm not training assistant instructors here, I'm developing people to be their own individuals, utilizing the training methods of Parkour.

There are also structures within the class set up, such as a very strict lateness policy to develop that habit of leadership, and an environment where people are proactively helping and assisting one another. Nobody finishes an exercise or whatever until the last person is done. The people who finish first go back and finish with the rest. That's the nature of the class, it's set and assumed and requires no reinforcement on my part. So it teaches them more than surface level teaching stuff, part of the class is designed to build their character and work ethic and empathy and sensitivity as teachers and leaders and athletes. These are the attributes that while they may not be the most obvious to -them-, they are incredibly important to me as I structure the way the class is run.

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Offline lethalbeef

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Re: Creating new leaders
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2011, 03:04:34 PM »
Hm. It sounds like the whole thing is pretty self-sustaining, and the students are leading a lot of the class on their own. That's quite impressive, but it makes me wonder what the purpose of a class on this topic is? If they are doing so much on their own why not just set up a forum or message board for them - better yet, direct them to this board?

Offline Adam McC

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Re: Creating new leaders
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2011, 06:09:01 PM »
Hm. It sounds like the whole thing is pretty self-sustaining, and the students are leading a lot of the class on their own. That's quite impressive, but it makes me wonder what the purpose of a class on this topic is? If they are doing so much on their own why not just set up a forum or message board for them - better yet, direct them to this board?

I'm not sure I understand your statement. Are you saying, why aren't they themselves on this here "Community Club and Leaders" board? A few of my students are already here on APK, but the majority of them are currently only concerned with their own training in real life. They all know about APK, and it is their choice to participate in the online aspect of the community, at this stage, or not. Most are just concerned with developing themselves, at this stage.

As for the class, yes. It is very self-sustaining. They do most of the stuff themselves, they are the creative process of the class. I simply provide them ways, based on a purpose, to exercise their creativity and gain experience and confidence with themselves, and learn from their mistakes without as bad consequences. They can do a drill that completely fails and they learn from it, in the structure of the class. If they were on their own, it'd be far more difficult to deal with and recover from. But they really are the meat of the class. I'm just the goalie that gives them a field and kicks them back into play occasionally.

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Offline lethalbeef

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Re: Creating new leaders
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2011, 09:31:52 AM »
My question was, basically, what is the purpose of doing that sort of leadership development in a class setting at all? Obviously you're valuable as an experienced member to give guidance, but I wonder if the class is necessary, as it kind of concentrates and isolates their discussion to one community and one group of leaders, whereas they could be encouraged instead to get on this forum more and contribute to discussion with other community leaders who may have different perspectives or experiences to share.

Offline Adam McC

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Re: Creating new leaders
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2011, 05:29:26 PM »
My question was, basically, what is the purpose of doing that sort of leadership development in a class setting at all? Obviously you're valuable as an experienced member to give guidance, but I wonder if the class is necessary, as it kind of concentrates and isolates their discussion to one community and one group of leaders, whereas they could be encouraged instead to get on this forum more and contribute to discussion with other community leaders who may have different perspectives or experiences to share.

Because they are developing themselves as teachers, in real life. The class environment gives them that skill and experience. Making posts online does not. Being a leader and a teacher in the community requires knowledge, and they need to be outside, training, playing, learning, and discovering for them to gain that knowledge. Becoming involved in something like an online forum will be an after-thought. And like I said before, they are encouraged to join the board and participate, and some are. But posting on APK doesn't qualify one as a community leader very well. Not the most effective training method. Class structures make for a good method, particularly if that's how they intend to teach and lead. And since that's how Parkour is taught, in today's world, through classes and seminars, I feel it is the most accurate setting for them to be in.

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Offline lethalbeef

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Re: Creating new leaders
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2011, 07:41:16 PM »
Cool. I wish I had as many people in my community who wanted to be new leaders as you do.