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Over the past seven years as an FFA member, the word “leadership” has become a very familiar word. However, what does leadership mean?  Webster dictionary states that leadership is “the ability to lead.” It might just be me but the literal definition still leaves me wondering what the true meaning of leadership is. I have found through my experience that leadership is a culmination of ideas and traits. We learn about leadership in different ways including communication, teamwork, time-management, goal setting, and service.

I can remember going through chapter officer interviews during middle and high school. I could guarantee that the question, what does leadership mean to you, would always be asked.  In middle school, I might have said that leadership was leading a group. In high school, I came to a more sophisticated answer; leadership is when you can lead a group by example. Yes, I thought I was clever. If you do everything right, be on time, make goals, be a good speaker, and be positive than you must be a great leader. Not entirely. Recently, I have discovered a new way to understand the concept of leadership.

One book that was given to every state officer in the United States was Habitudes by Dr. Tim Elmore. In this particular leadership book the author delivers twelve images that form leadership habits and attitudes, aka Habitudes. The very first image is one that has really stuck with me, a simple picture of an iceberg. There is more to an iceberg than you can see; in fact, most of the iceberg is actually underneath the water. Dr. Elmore compares our personal leadership to that of an iceberg. He explains that leadership is made of both skill and character. Actually, leadership is made of 10% skill and 90% character. Our leadership is much like the image of an iceberg. The 10% of skill is what people see above the water, skills such as public speaking or organization.

Yet, the 90% character is underneath the water. Your character is the combination of four factors.

  • Self-discipline, the ability to do what’s right even if you don’t feel like it.
  • Core values, principles you live by that enable you to take a morale stand
  • Sense of identity, a realistic self-image based on your gifts and personality
  • Emotional security, the capacity to be emotionally stable and consistent

Our leadership is composed much like that of an iceberg.  Leadership consists of 10% skill, above the water, and 90% character, below the water. As you may have imagined it is what’s below the surface that sinks the ship. I challenge you to evaluate your personal leadership. The core of our personal leadership is character or what we do when no one else is watching. So I ask, what does your character look like? Do you do what is right even though it may not be the easiest thing to do?

Until Next Time,

Brett Wasden
Area IV State Vice President

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