Yesterday, I spent the better part of the day working with folks I had never met before yet had a common goal: repair parts of an aging boardwalk in a local conservation area. While I know my way around some power tools and the business end of a hammer, I wouldn’t exactly consider myself a DIY kind of gal and certainly not on this size of a  project. Oh, and did I mention the 1/4 mile hike into the conservation land over muddy trails with wheelbarrows, tools, 7 ft long 4 X 4 pressure treated beams to get to the object of our repair?

As we met up, the organizer made sure we all got acquainted, and then another guy spoke about the history of the boardwalk and the conservation efforts over the past decades. This guy was a Boy Scout troop leader and there were several dads and sons together with strays like me in this newly formed “Repair Troop”.

One of the first points of business, although not announced, was the troop leader’s natural assumption as leader of all. We all deferred to his superior knowledge and took his direction. I might also add at this point that he was a natural teacher as well, always stopping to show how to use a drill correctly, acknowledging efforts, and teaching about safety while doing the above. I admit that having a half-dozen teens running around with drills, hammers, crowbars, etc. and working in a tight workspace was a little cringing for me. However, I determined that if the menfolk didn’t seem preoccupied with any impending death, destruction and mayhem by the boys, I should just let it go.

What made an impression on me was the way each member of “Repair Troop” took on various roles: the loner, the class clown, the slacker, the dissenter, the onlooker, the active participant, etc. and all the ways people behave in life. At one point, I spoke up about our plan to remove a section of boards and suggested that we slide in a crossbeam instead. This was a problem solving activity, so jumping in with an idea was as natural as knowing what kind of drill bit to use (for some). Just because all the other members were guys, some with more experience than I, and some with less, I felt as if I could speak up.  And that is what makes a team work.

Leadership means leading and allowing for participation, growth, and the personal contribution of the people within the team. Recognizing talents, gently correcting, and giving examples of “how to do” offer opportunities for people to shine and learn. Amazing business lesson from a very good Boy Scout Troop leader.