How my kids are learning about #Leadership

Both my kids are attending a Mini-University camp at the University of Manitoba this week. My daughter is taking a craft camp and my son is taking a myth-busters camp. For the record, they love the camps and I love how the camps are being taught.

Over dinner on Monday I saw that my daughter was a team leader, on Tuesday my son was team leader for the day. I thought this would be a great time to discuss was a leader was. So I asked both of them what a leader does on a team.

I’ve watched my son interact with his friends enough times to guess that the leadership role would probably end up being a competition with his friends. My daughter also likes to be ‘directional’ with her friends, I was really intrigued as to how they conducted themselves as leaders.

My first question was whether they enjoyed being leaders. Both of them mentioned that it was a lot of work. They both said they wouldn’t want to be a leader tomorrow. They thought it would be good for each of the kids to have a turn.

Alright! So far, so good.

My second question was what they did they do as leaders? Did they order people around? Did they tell people what to do? Both of them mentioned that they assigned tasks to the rest of the team.

Hmmmm… I was a little concerned until my daughter piped in..

“But then my team had better ideas as to who should do what tasks. So we decided as a group to change how we did things and I spent my time getting things for the rest of the team”

I’ve never been so proud.

My thoughts

My thoughts on great leaders fall into these two principles illustrated by my kids…

1) Great leaders don’t usually want to be leaders. They usually take on the role when encouraged by their team. Given their choice, they would much rather operate in the shadows performing a practitioner role on the project.

2) Great leaders don’t direct the team, they serve the team by providing whatever the team needs. Sometimes it can be vision or structure but most of the time it is facilitation and serving the needs of the team.

Ultimately I think great leaders are coaches who just want to be players again. I’m glad to see my kids are learning this far earlier than I did…


Author: Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio is passionate about his work as the Manager of the Project Management Office at the University of Manitoba. Terry oversees the governance on Information Technology projects to make sure the most important projects are being worked on in a consistent and effective way. Terry also provides leadership on the customized Project Methodology that is followed. The Project Methodology is a equal mix of Prince2, Agile, Traditional, and Business Value. Terry strives to bring Brutal Visibility, Eliminating Information islands, Right Sizing Documentation, Promoting Collaboration and Role-Based Non-Consensus, and short Feedback Loops to Minimize Inventory to the Agile Project Management Office. As a fan of pragmatic Agile, Terry always tries to determine if we can deliver value as soon as possible through iterations. As a practical Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Traditional and Agile approaches. Terry is a fan of AWE (Agile With Estimates), the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, and asking why?

One thought on “How my kids are learning about #Leadership”

  1. Great article; I can relate well with not seeking out the leadership role, enjoying it while I’m in it, and being happy to return back to participating after a while.


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