Over the past few weeks, we’ve been discovering the many layers of teamwork and leadership. This is the second part of our Leadership and Teamwork mini-series. If you missed the first part, catch up here.
Imagine you are shipwrecked on a desert island. Your cruise ship crashed there two weeks ago and now the island is full of many people, but no one is taking charge and nobody is working together.
This is the scenario we presented our Guides (aged 10-14) a few weeks ago. We then challenged them to each produce a manifesto, outlining how they would bring the individuals together and lead this brand new community.
They came up with some truly fantastic ideas, from education systems to teach the younger generations the best way to build mud huts, through to ways to punish those who broke the law. One Guide suggested that law breakers should have their water ration reduced and another thought they should have to do more work than everyone else.
They discussed the importance of a democratic society and they listened intently to each others ideas, asking questions to further their understanding.
A new, common language was suggested so that communication would be easier and no-one would feel left out due to a language barrier.
The conversation got a little heated when one Guide declared that children should be given a larger food ration than everyone else, for they are growing and need to develop their bodies and their minds as best they can. Another Guide believed strongly that everyone should receive the same rations and another said that children should receive less food than adults, because they’re smaller.
All of the manifestos were so well thought out that there was no majority vote when we tried to select our leader. Each made some wonderful points and they all showed originality. If we’d had more time, we’d have liked to have discussed ways to choose a leader in this situation.
Interestingly, in a community that was stripped back to basics, where food needed to be hunted and children needed to be educated, the gender stereotypes were in full force. Women became the educators and men became the hunters. We gently questioned the Guides about their decisions here and the response we received was “well, I’ve never seen a woman chase a camel”. Hmm… I’ve actually never seen a man do that either, but I guess that’s a conversation for another day!
In all manifestos, there was work to be done and the jobs were shared out amongst all members of the community. Every person had a part to play. Everyone was an important member of the team.
Throughout the challenge the Guides were required to think of others, putting the needs of the community above their own. They needed to consider the individual personalities of the imaginary islanders and make sure that the rules they set would be fair to everyone.
Some worked alone to develop their ideas and then came together to discuss their ideas, to get feedback. Some Guides chose to work in pairs, helping each other in a one-on-one situation. Some wrote a long list of bullet points to present from, others wrote two lines but still presented an entire manifesto.
The point is, people choose to work in different ways. We are all individuals, with our own personalities and our own ways of working. But in Guides, as in life, we’re all members of the same team. Everyone is important.