We all have significant people in our lives, whether it's family members we look up to, friends who have helped us through difficult times, teachers who've inspired you to pursue a certain line of work, a coach who is the reason you love a sport or someone else.
I owe a lot of gratitude to the person who made me a leader. Though I think being a "leader" requires some genetic make-up, it mostly takes a lot of guidance, training and practice to be a good leader. And I feel so blessed that I was taught what it meant to be a good leader when I was young, and I was given the tools to practice these principles.
Although I've had various advisors and teachers and hold various leadership positions, my high school band director was the person who really changed my outlook and attitude about leadership. I was given my first leadership position as a sophomore and was eventually named drum major of my marching band my senior year. I was given years of practice and lots of training.
My band director required all leaders to attend a leadership workshop, which offered more insight to what it means to lead than any other workshop I've ever attended. He also required that go through various training sessions before we were given the position, and complete an extensive application process to become a leader.
Once we were given the position, we were given a lot of responsibility. It was more responsibility than you would think a bunch of high schoolers would be given. We were expected to make decisions, especially if it was a decision that needed to be made immediately. We were expected to take our own initiative. We were given a lot more power and control than most teachers would usually give students, which was a terrifying privilege to have.
We were expected to take responsibility for our own mistakes, and to take responsibility for the mistakes of the students we're leading. We were expected to communicate with the director and the reach of the band staff, and to communicate in an efficient, honest and professional manner. Although all of this responsibility and expectation was stressful, looking back it was amazing that a teacher has so much faith in student's abilities to leader that he would hand over so much power.
Although my band director, the staff, the other leaders, the students and even myself, weren't always the easiest to work with (the stereotype about moody musicians is definitely correct), this was just another aspect of the role that taught me about leadership. It was great to experience working with a variety of personalities.
My band director valued my opinion, and allowed me to speak out about my concerns, even if my concerns were about him. Not a lot of teachers/advisors will allow this. I tell people being drum major of my marching band was the most difficult and most rewarding experience I've ever had. Not only did it teach about leadership but it taught me about reliability, accountability and overall self-confidence.
I'm so lucky to have been taught what it really means to be a leader at a young age, because there are some adults who don't even really know. Having the knowledge and experience of leadership gives me the confidence from apply, interviewing and carrying out various jobs and leadership positions. I use what I learned from being a leader in band with me in everything I participate in. And I could thank my direct for giving me the training and experiencing, and for believing in me and my abilities to be a real leader.