There are so many aspects that go into making a great leader, and the Leadership Weekend Experience at the Summer Symposium is a great opportunity to add more tools to your leadership toolkit. Saturday morning all the students broke into their small groups and had the chance to attend various leadership sessions with our great faculty members. One such faculty member is Norm Logan, who provided the students with the chance to play several different games in order to build teamwork, take initiative, and above all their boost their leadership skills. The main goal of these games ultimately is to have some fun, while being silly.

The first game, called “jump,” was a great way for the students to get up and get energized. Once everyone was standing in a circle, they started jumping up and down to get their energy moving. Their next set of instructions had them introduce themselves to those around them, while they were still jumping. An important lesson for all leaders to learn is that sometimes faking enthusiasm is necessary in order to get your group motivated. While jumping is a great way to physically get everyone motivated, you may have to motivate your group without jumping, relying only on your own energy. From leading by example, you will be able to motivate a majority of those around you. Be aware that not everyone is going to be on board with participating all the time. The best thing to do in situations like this is to not to focus on those that steal away energy, but rather on those actively trying to contribute to the group to keep the energy high.
The second game had everyone make a straight line in order of their last name without talking. It was amazing to see the immediate teamwork that went into creating a line, given the sheer number of students that were participating. Some students were even taking on more initiative, directing others on where they should be and where the line should go. Once in line, they were asked to make the line again but better, and amazingly they did. The line almost immediately looked twice as good as the first, but the question posed to them was why didn’t you make the line the best it could be the first time? “Excellence is the standard,” Norm explained to the students. You have to make sure you are always engaged with excellence and not just mindlessly going through the motions.

The next game, amoeba, had the students break off into seven different groups. This game relied on the smallest person of the group to sit on the shoulders of two others in the group, while everyone else linked ams and stood around them. Once the groups got used to moving around in a formation like this, they were put to the test with a race to see which group was the fastest. Once the groups were off, it was easy to see that some groups had more teamwork than others. Some teams however sacrificed teamwork for the sake of winning, causing their team to become disqualified. It is so easy to forget about some members of your team, especially if you are in front or at the top. This leaves those in the back more often than not barely hanging on. In real life, it is important to make sure that everyone feels as though they are contributing to the team, so those that might feel like they are on the bottom or in the back don’t get discouraged and quit.

After that, the students played Capital on Deck which involved creating different poses with various number of people depending on the instructions. This game was solely for fun and for the students to have a chance to run around a little bit. One takeaway from the game though was the importance of listening to instructions and being able not to talk while others are talking.

Jab-a-Quacker was the game after Captain on Deck. A Jab-a-Quacker, as was described, is a mythical creature with no bones, is blind, can’t talk, and can only move backwards. For this, half of the students formed a circle around the other group that were the Jab-a-Quackers. These students on the inside had to bend over, keep their hands on their knees, eyes closed, mouths shut, and only move backwards. An opening was then made in the larger circle for those on the inside to find and exit the circle from. Once out, the students were instructed to start quacking to help those still on the inside find the outside. Once everyone from the first group found their way out, the groups switched. The second group, already knowing what to expect, found their way out almost immediately making a beeline to the exit as soon as they heard quacking.

The last game was involved singing a line from “Singing in the Rain,” while adding various different movements, such as thumbs up, elbows back, knees together, etc to have the students loosen up and have some more fun.

It was amazing to see such a large group of students become so enthusiastic and participating in all of these seemingly silly games. It takes a good leader to be able to do something silly and to show others it’s alright to be silly too. Leaving this session feeling energized, almost all the students had a smile on their face, and their leadership toolkit a little more full. With these new tools, these students are ready to go back to their own schools and show their band just how to be silly, and more importantly how to be a better leader.