This weekend, I learnt how important a role a good leader can play in a team and the attributes most needed to be a successful  leader.


On Friday morning, I began this learning journey of leadership by being dropped off in the middle of the New Forest with a mixture of girls from my school and boys from the neighbouring school. .


Our first challenge was to successfully navigate our way to the place where we would be staying for the following two nights: Avon Tyrell. Luckily, one of the boys was feeling confident and agreed to lead us in this task. With the group not being fully bonded yet it was challenging at first for everyone to agree on crucial decisions, such as deciding which route to take,  and to work together productively However, as the afternoon went by, we started to gel together and, after an interesting blindfolded exercise we became a team.


Our first activity was a success and we arrived at the location with only a few minor blips. I believe this was due to the team co-operation and the strengths that our leader portrayed when organising us, including being passionate about the activity and taking on board the ideas of others within our group.


Being a good leader is a quality that many believe is innate; a biological predisposition that certain people are born with, and others without. However, this is not the case.


The skill of leadership can be acquired with experience, motivation and the desire to improve you and others around you. Fundamental to being a leader is the willingness to benefit your co-workers, and not just yourself. Perfecting the balance of leadership encompasses two main behaviours: supportive and directive. As proposed by Hershey’s Situational Leadership Model, there is not one superior style of leading. In this model four different leadership styles have been identified, each  defined by four behaviour types.


The four types include Directing, Coaching, Supporting and Delegating, where the level of directive and supportive behaviour differs for each. In order to be an effective leader, iIt is important to be flexible, adapting oneself according to the current situation.


For example, when our group was working together on the high ropes course, as well as discovering a new fear of heights, I also discovered the power of listening. When conquering ‘The Crate Challenge’ listening to your partner was invaluable, as each movement needed to be coordinated with them to ensure success (and not falling from a great height!). Similarly, on a more grounded task, our team also discovered that listening to one ‘leader’ during the wooden plank race was vital in guiding our team to the finish line. Despite being a fairly trivial activity, this scenario can be representative of many more situations where a leader needs to be listened to and followed.


Therefore, I certainly agree with the proposition that anyone can become a good leader. Before embarking on this course I felt like I was forever going to be operating under a leader. On the contrary, after leading a problem solving exercise involving a difficult grid and some cards, I feel like I succeeded in operationalising my leadership skills to fit with the task provided.  My confidence has grown massively and I have realised that anyone can become a leader; it just takes confidence, competency and charisma.

By Francesca Foster, The Lady Eleanor Holles School