I learned about campfire leadership as a child. When I was 13 years old I lived with my father, who was in the Army and stationed in Anchorage, Alaska. During the summer months, we would spend most of our weekends fishing on the Kenai River. It was in the Kenai Peninsula, just south of our home in Anchorage. My father would fish for King Salmon on the river and my brothers and I would fish for trout in the stream that flowed into the river. Those were some of the greatest years of my life.
After spending a long day of fishing and goofing around, we would always end up at the campground’s nightly campfire. We would spend hours listening to the fishing stories of the adults who almost landed the Big One while fishing that day. They were great stories about adventure and the perils of living in Alaska. The life lessons taught around that campfire were lessons I still follow today. The leadership I learned from those men around that campfire would prove to be invaluable later in my life.
Years later, I find that I want to be the kind of leader that I saw in those men. They gave us such great advice and insight during those nights just sitting around those campfires. I was drawn to their leadership and realized that there are 3 types of leaders. There is the Penlight Leader, the Spotlight Leader and the Campfire Leader.The Penlight Leader is a kind of leader that is a leader by title alone. They really don’t show many leadership qualities in the way that they lead. They tend to be meek, timid, and lack the confidence to lead. And, just like a penlight, they only shine enough light to see just enough ahead to really wonder where you’re going. I always felt sorry for these kinds of leaders because they never really seemed to want to be the leader. They were just too nice to say no when they had the position appointed to them. It’s hard to follow these leaders. They are very likeable, but don’t seem to have a clear direction or passion for leadership.
The Spotlight Leader is easy to spot, or should I say ‘hear’. You can’t miss them! They will remind you over and over that they are the Leader. They have a “in your face” style of leadership. Not one of leadership abilities, but of verbosity and intimidation. They look for ways to put the spotlight on themselves, even at your expense. It’s hard to like and very hard to follow this style of leader. There is no passion for leadership, only passion for power and authority.The Campfire Leader is the type of leader that we should all aspire to be like. Just like a campfire, they are warm, inviting and easy to spot. Their leadership style lights up the surrounding area making it easy to spot them as a leader. Also like a campfire, we are drawn to these kinds of leaders. They have passion for leadership making them easy to trust, because you know that they care for your well being.Like adding wood to a campfire, a Leader knows that the importance of constantly adding to their survival skills. Resource tools like books and articles on leadership are part of the ‘essential’ preparation. But more importantly, lessons learned through personal experiences are key to a Campfire Leader in success to developing into the best leader that they can be. They share their life lessons and experiences not to tell you what you do wrong, but as a guide to lead you. They know that demonstrating is the most effective way to train and lead.