After such an amazing Leadership event last week I thought I would share with you my son's speech on leadership, as a proud Father I'll add he ranked 3rd in the city of Toronto public speaking competition for kids in grades 4-6. I learned from it, hope you can.
Here it goes....
"Please, can you come outside with me for a second? I need your help outside. You there, can I meet you after school to talk about something. I’m speaking to you, why aren’t you paying attention to me?
Good morning teachers.., fellow classmates, I’m Thomas Darbyshire and I’m here to talk to you about Leadership.
A simple definition of leadership is that leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal.
Put even more simply, the leader is the inspiration and director of the action. He or she is the person in the group that possesses the combination of personality and skills that makes others want to follow his or her direction. So now back to my opening comments, am I a leader you would follow or listen to when I ask you to tuck in your shirt? Maybe I’m not worthy of being a leader of yours just yet.
In my life I take leadership very seriously that’s why I am here today to talk to you about it. Last year I joined a new hockey team not knowing anyone on the team, but I knew I wanted to be the captain of the team. I also knew that not knowing anyone on the team including the coaches becoming the captain, without being the best player on the team would be hard. Knowing I wanted to be captain I researched what it would take to be a good leader here is what I learned.
Leaders have a …
Good leaders have vision. Good leaders know where they are heading and they lead people to the same vision that they have for their lives, a community, or even a nation.
Good leaders are not quiet people ( phew). They are usually extremely passionate in whatever they're doing. Anyone who has seen me at a school sports event knows there is nobody who cheers on his teammates better than me.
Good leaders are wise and discerning. Being a leader often means that they need to make crucial decisions at various points. My parents say I’m smart, I wonder if that means the same as wise? Being wise doesn’t mean you’re the kid who has straight As in school (thank goodness) but you know how to make decisions that are best for everyone, and you stand behind your decision
They have compassion for their followers. While they understand they have a goal to pursue, they constantly look back and care for the people that are following them. They are not selfish people who only think about their own needs and luxuries; they also have a heart for the people under them as well. This is a characteristics I take very serious, if it’s in the school yard, or on the playing field, there is no more important characteristic than a leader who can show compassion.
Good leaders are charismatic; they are attractive people and they draw people to them by their shining personalities. When I read that one I thought, good thing I’m not shy. Whether is it the way they speak, or the excellence they demand from people; these leaders has something that people feel drawn toward.
6. Good Communicators
They are very good at orating and speaking. (I hope you feel I am) They are extremely well-versed in public speaking and they can influence and inspire people with the things that they say. My 3 years of strong performances in public speaking and my confidence to speak in front of my peers and judges makes me a very fit leader.
They are persistent in reaching their goals. They understand that reaching a goal can be filled with setbacks. but, they see that the benefits of reaching the goal is greater than that of the setback that they experienced. This makes them extremely persistent people. Nothing says Thomas more than persistence; I live with one motto – never give up. I can be losing 10 – 0, but I will never give up.
Good leaders have integrity. They mean what they say, and they say what they mean. They are people who keep their promises. As such, people find them trustworthy and they give their commitment to these leaders as a result.
They are courageous. Besides just having a dream, good leaders are courageous enough to pursue after it. The fears are real, but a courageous leader pursues them despite the fears. I think I demonstrated by selling $1 tickets to my neighours to watch 6 year olds play hockey shows, I’m pretty courageous- i actually made money on that :)
Good leaders are extremely disciplined in their pursuit of their goals. While most people would be easily distracted or discouraged, good leaders discipline themselves to keep focused and to keep steady despite the circumstances. For me when I see a goal, I focus on it, and I go for it.
Using these principles as a guide I looked my myself and felt I had most of these characteristics already, now I had to prove it to my new coaches and fellow teammates. It’s one thing to have these characteristics is one thing, it was hard to decide how to prove I was a leader.
I did some research into leaders and was very surprised to find the examples I did. Naturally we know good leaders are people like Martin Luther King, or Mother Theresa, or Pope John Paul the second. I was surprised to read names like Hitler, or even gang leaders mentioned as leaders. That is to say that leaders do not always lead good causes, but to the people they do lead, they possess characteristics I mentioned. Also if you talk to your parents or family members about their manager at work, or the teachers at school if their principal is a manager, or a leader, not all managers are good leaders. Have no fear though I won’t be asking the teachers at school to give me their opinion.
Taking what I had learned I applied it to my day to day life with my hockey team. To show I was a good communicator I stood up in the dressing room and led the team in a cheer, to show them I was persistent no matter how hard I was hit I always got back up, to show I was disciplined I always went to the front of the line for every drill in practice. To demonstrate I had compassion when our goalie let in a few soft goals I went over and patted him on the back. When kids were throwing ice at the other players, I had the courage to stand up and tell them to stop when it would have been easier to join in the fun. When our team was losing by two goals with less than a minute to play I showed persistence by cheering our team name, putting my head down and winning every face-off fighting until the last 2.5 seconds when I assisted on the tying goal against our American opponent.
What I have learned is that being a leader is not easy, but it is rewarding. I learned that is hard to learn to be a leader, but it is something that we all need to be. Sure it is easier sometimes to just agree with someone when you know it’s wrong, but a leader does what’s right. I read a quote from a man named John Maxwell who teaches leadership he said “ leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”. That to me is how I feel about leadership.
I hope you have learned from me the importance of leadership. I hope you realize it can be learned it’s not just something you’re born with “ So now after my speech want to come outside and help me? How about you? Have I convinced you to talk to me later? Oh.. I almost forgot to mention. I did become my team captain, and the coach told me before I started to demonstrate it, I wasn’t even going to be considered.
Thank you and Lead on."
Wow Chris - you must be a proud Dad - the apple does not fall far from the tree. You have taught him well! You have to tell him that we can all learn from his speech.
Interesting and relevant post. A large contrast to Tim's post about learning from our parents, but with interesting parallels. I think one key take away (aside from the pure leadership message) is that inspiration and learning can come from unanticipated sources provided we keep our eyes open. Just as we can learn from our parents, there is so much to learn from our kids.
And on this note, there is so much to learn from the ecosystem around us - our partners, customers and even competitiors. So let's keep our eyes open.
Does he want say, a 30 minute time slot at our next Leadership Conference???
blimey. sorry, the jobs already taken.
Great story…extremely wise for an 11 year old boy. A future CEO?
What a wise boy...I don't think I was reading quotes from John Maxwell at age 11.
Excellent, congratulations to your son and you, very well presented, thanks for sharing this with all of us.
Pretty amazing to think that an 11 year old can put this together in such a concise manner.
A good point is also made in that we all need to learn and the learning doesn’t stop. There is always something to improve, to tweak or to re-align.
As leaders we need to continue to push our own vision, our own limits to take us to the next level.
What a great work from a very intelliegent 11 year old. Clearly he understands leadership. This demonstrates we can learn from everyone as long as we are open to it!
You shoudl invest in the future for another start up business for him, not just inspirational leader, he also know how to make money creatively....
Just goes to show that insight and knowledge comes from the most surprising sources, we just have to be willing to pay attention and listen to them. It doesn't matter if it is our children, a colleague that doesn't have the same technical background or a friend. Looking at all aspects of life, both personal and professional, from a different perspective can give amazing results. Chris, you have an amazing son.
May I require some consultancy from your son?
My son has been promoted captain of his soccer team. it has been a global decision from the coach and the team members but it was not requested by my son.
Does you son think my son has leader's potential without knowing it? What would be his advice for him to become a real leader?
Wow and he's how old?!?!