This Is Why My Marching Band Uses The Progressive Leadership Style Called 'Servant Leadership'

This Is Why My Marching Band Uses The Progressive Leadership Style Called 'Servant Leadership'

Traditional leadership is often a type of hierarchy with enforceable power over others; in marching band, leadership is and must be so much more profound.

Henry Gallagher

Marching band is perhaps the largest influence on my life. Not only do I dedicate a huge portion of my time to marching band but also my whole being. Once I'm through the band door or on the band field, I leave the problems of the rest of my life behind in order to put my best foot forward.

The heartfelt, tangible aura, drive and passion on the field when we march is amazing. It's a feeling like no other when we culminate our blood, sweat and tears into a stunning performance. Just like we have no room for outside issues to distract us from our aspirations on the field, we need dedicated and talented leaders to help drive us in the right direction.

At the end of each school year, we have a vetting process to seek the people worthy of being leadership in the marching band for the next season. This goes from managerial positions such as uniform officer to section leaders (including color guard captains and percussion positions) to the ever-important student conductors as drum majors.

This year, I was lucky to come out of the interview process as the new trombone section leader. Competition as always was fierce. Coming out of the interview process, I thought it was necessary to share what type of leadership we seek in marching band: servant leadership.

Last year, I made the mistake of wanting to become a traditional leader in that I simply wanted a platform to stand on to direct others. Since then, I have realized that this is far from what servant leadership is meant to look like.

Traditional leadership, by nature, puts some below others in a type of hierarchy. In marching band, we are one entity who becomes only as strong as our weakest. No one is superior to anyone else, as we all face the same hardships and have the same goals in mind.

Servant leaders are meant to be assets utilized by those who need them, not bosses who punish and reward individual ethic. The phrase "at your service" comes to mind.

Servant leadership is truly a unique style that I have yet to see applied to anywhere short of marching band. Even other school extra- or co-curriculars fail to follow this and instead implement a system where leaders or officers either order people around or simply streamline processes. This is partly a result of marching band's different culture, as it's implicit that we are all in it together.

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