Here are a few lessons I learned from writing a leadership book. First, it’s been said that, “the teacher learns more from preparing a lesson than the students do when the teacher actually teaches the lesson.” This was certainly the case for me as I reflect on the lessons I learned from writing a leadership book for students.
This all started late this past fall. I had recently spoken at the Georgia HOSA fall Student Leadership Conference, and the Montana 4-H Ambassador Leadership Training. After speaking I was asked if I had any print material I could offer the student leaders or student advisers based on my keynote and workshops. Unfortunately for both of us I didn’t, and I was embarrassed. So I challenged myself to make sure the next time I delivered my B.A.S.I.C. keynote I would be more prepared.
The result is my new book B.A.S.I.C. The Student Leadership Field Manual. I started the book in early November and stayed laser focused until I finished in late December. So what did I learn in the process of writing a leadership book that might help you?
- Anticipate Need: I was very excited about my new keynote and workshop. I had spent many hours putting together my new speech and workshop materials. I had practiced and practice my speech and had all my workshop notes well prepared. However, in my haste I forgot about those I was responsible for leading, and I was embarrassed because of my lack of foresight. As a leader, I should have thought about what my audience and anticipated their needs before they expressed them. Now I can offer them a leadership book for students based on my key message.
- Leadership is a deep subject: There is nothing simple about teaching leadership. For every leadership expert there is an opinion on how best teach others to lead, and I’m no different. I’ve been teaching and mentoring students about leadership for years. But when you have to set down and write about leadership it’s difficult to know where to start and were to end. In this case I had to remember my audience. Students are the target of this book, so it needed to be fun and provide content. Students don’t need theory they need practical advice and experience.
- I assumed too much: There is a lot of attention placed on teaching students leadership. So assumed students would be able to define leadership. I was wrong, and it’s not their fault. As I researched book for students on leadership there are not a lot of books available written for students. Some of the book available are actually adult leadership books that are just rewritten for students, and they all teach theory not practical hands on leadership. So I started with making sure students could define leadership.
- Character is basic to leadership: Sure I know that a leaders character and their ability to lead can’t be separated. However, it seems that many students would disagree with me on the previous statement. The notion that we can compartmentalize or lives into many different segments wasn’t easy to deal with. How do you convince a student that what they do “off duty” matters to their ability to lead “on duty,” when so many students feel judged if you even suggest that what they do might reflect upon what they can do. Students have what I’ve started calling “little lives.” These little lives are the compartments they live in today. They have their on-line life, their home life, their school life, their faith life, and their job life, and they believe that each can be and should be valued as separately. This makes my head spin.
Writing a leadership book for students has been a fun and fast paced process. I’ve always learned so much more on the subjects than what can go into a book for students. I’ve also been fortunate to remember to learn from the students I teach. It amazes me how much students still have to teach me about leadership, making choices and character. Here is a link to my Amazon authors page if you’d like to take a look at my books. www.amzn.com/Fred-Grooms/e/B00LMGC8RE/