In the past few committee meetings, we have discussed leadership qualifications and an approval process for new leaders.
We started defining skills for different levels but realized that good paddling skills do not equal good leadership skills, rather leadership is about group dynamics, risk management, planning, communications, and cohesion (among other things). We also acknowledged that our problem is not that our leader requirement list is too short, but that we are not attracting new people into leadership roles.
The working group started defining skills for different levels but realized that good paddling skills do not equal good leadership skills, rather leadership is about group dynamics, risk management, planning, communications, and cohesion.
We want to encourage and promote paddlers with good judgment who are capable of organizing a trip, effectively leading a diverse group of paddlers, and managing the safety of the group before and during the trip.
To that end, the Committee established the following criteria for defining a new leadership process:
We recognize that paddling skills are important but the skills we require of our leaders are discipline-specific. Our focus is on establishing a generic process for all leaders and we leave discipline-specific skill training to each of the sub-groups in the Committee and for further study.
We propose three paths to achieve leadership for this committee.
We want to encourage and promote paddlers with good judgment who are willing to accept responsibility for group safety (while participants are responsible for their own personal safety).
The co-lead process gives the leader(s) an opportunity to teach and observe the co-leader’s ability, organization, and communication skills. A good mentor involves the co-leader with trip planning, risk assessment, screening, trip writeup, and managing the group on the water. This process allows the co-leader to take the lead for a portion of a trip, communicate the current objective, and make group decisions. One learns a lot in this role - this learning doesn't stop after one achieves a Leader designation.
The saying that good judgment comes from a lot of bad decisions is generally true - people and organizations (hopefully) learn from their mistakes. We do however want these mistakes to be minor and inconsequential. We want to establish a culture of learning and safety by:
The role of this committee is to provide support, training, and insurance for our leaders. We must trust that our leaders are competent and responsible for others and be tolerant of their mistakes as long as they acknowledge and learn from them. Our sport involves risks - it is part of the fun and excitement, but when responsible for others, leaders need to balance risk with safety. Encouragement, tolerance, and training can make this group an attractive place for newcomers. Let us keep these ideals in mind when we assess and approve new leaders.
Finally, one of the biggest hurdles for new co-leaders is finding leaders and trips to co-lead. Leaders prefer partnering with co-leaders they know and trust. In order to grow our leader base, leaders need to adopt new co-leaders for some of their trips. Tune ups, committee meetings, and reaching out to the committee are good ways to put people together.
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