I learned a lot about leadership from coaching my children’s sport’s teams. Recognize these groups?
I’ll give you a hint, they gather regularly in streets, yards, and fields across the world. They can organize themselves or be in a community structured league. This crowd is a frenzied pair of five year old children’s soccer teams (to use the U.S. term for the game).
Perhaps you are familiar with beginners playing soccer and their tendency to swarm around the ball, chasing it around the field, merging into an active, passionate, emotional herd. If not, I hope you can imagine it for those herds show many of the characteristics that groups including families, congregations, and all forms of crowds can exhibit.
Here is another image. These two groups aren’t crowds at all. These are older, more experienced, more mature players who have a better understanding of the game, how it is played, and their personal roles on their teams.
If you look at the two diagrams, you can see the difference between the five year olds in their herd and the mature players in their teams. The most obvious difference between the two is spacing. The more mature players understand that space between them is important. Space between players in soccer is as important as space between musical notes in a song. If there is no space between notes in music, there is no distinguishable rhythm, tempo, or song, only a long blurry noise. In the younger, less mature groups, there is a lot of rampant activity, a lot of bumping, and kicking, but little soccer actually happens because they have not yet learned the importance of roles and spacing required in order to function as a team. So, too, is it in your life. If you are going to live out your particular calling, your particular self, your particular identity, you need emotional, intellectual, and social space between your self and others. Without healthy spacing and clear boundaries distinguishing you from others, your music, your song, your life, your role will be smothered, absorbed, blended into the greater group, the crowd. In the fused team, everyone is chasing the ball, there are no roles, and likely the team with one superior athlete will win every game. In the mature team, the roles are clear, they are quick but don’t hurry, and stick to their plan.
Besides spacing, another difference is in the fused team, everyone is chasing the ball, there are no roles, and likely the team with one superior athlete will win every game while in the mature team, the roles are clear, they are quick but don’t hurry, and stick to their plan. Continue reading “Leadership in an Anxious Age”