Lead, Follow or Get Out of My Way

Meghan Mando (IL '14), relationship development manager,  Fund for the Arts

Meghan Mando (IL ’14), relationship development manager, Fund for the Arts

by Meghan Mando, Ignite Louisville Class of 2014 —

“Lead me, follow me, or get the hell out of my way” – George S. Patton, Jr.

As part of Team Quintessence, I faced the Ft. Knox program day with a great deal of nervousness. So far, our team had demonstrated we were all the type of leaders who could step back and let others lead. Unlike most teams I’ve been a part of in the past, our team had no clear leader; we all took turns, and we all were heard. I worried our team wouldn’t have the type of leader George S. Patton, Jr. was. If we were faced with obstacles throughout the program course, who would step and lead us? Who would be our de-facto general?

As we approached our first obstacle in the Reaction Course, I realized I shouldn’t have been worried. Our team is unique; we tend to leave little to planning, and just jump right in. For most teams, this could be detrimental if a vocal leader led the team down the wrong path; for our team – it works. Since we all listen and we all have a voice, we agreed to continue with our “jump right in” style.

Our first obstacle involved a broken “bridge” with just the posts still standing. Our mission was to have all eight of our team members cross the bridge using a series of short wooden planks. The challenge? Only one of the wooden planks was long enough to cover the distance between the posts, meaning all of the planks had to be reused and rotated as our team crossed the river.

Our team only spent a few seconds analyzing the situation. Right away, Adam jumped onto a post and we started directing him. One of the military men working with us told us afterwards our team was “so polite”. And it’s true. As we each took turns directing Adam, and then slowly starting to figure out how our team would cross the river, we remained dedicated to not interrupting each other, and to continue being respectful of each other’s ideas, fears and thoughts. The result was our team crossing the bridge with plenty of time to spare.

While our team’s current dynamic worked in our favor, I’m excited to get see how our team grows as individuals and as a team throughout this six month process. Maybe we won’t always be so polite! As we start our project with the Volunteers of America, I hope our team continues rotating leadership throughout this process, since we all have something of value to say.