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Publication #FCS9088

Developing Skills for Youthful Leaders: Module 1: You Can Be A Leader1

Elizabeth B. Bolton, John R. Rutledge, Linda Bowman and Linda Barber2

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Teaching Instructions

Preparing to Teach

1. Prepare for teaching this lesson by reading and familiarizing yourself with the objectives, materials, handouts and exercises.

2. Begin your preparation several days in advance so that you will be able to secure whatever additional resources you need to make the lesson a "local" learning experience.

3. Plan your learning environment with care so that the surroundings contribute to the achievement of the objectives.

4. Begin on time and end on time. Schedule a break at about midpoint of the lesson.

5. With all lessons after the first, ask participants what they did as a result of last week's lesson. Record these!

6. Introduce each lesson with an overview of how it fits with the leadership development program for youth.

7. End each lesson with a summary and restatement of objectives. Tell participants what you expect them to do with the lesson after they leave.

8. Heighten their anticipation for the next lesson without sharing too much.

9. Each lesson is designed for approximately two hours. Use your judgement on shortening or expanding various parts according to the needs of your participants.

10. The two hour lesson is divided into sections that are described in the "Teaching Guide." Each section starts with a title, description of the activity, purpose, time needed to complete it, materials needed, and directions for students or teacher. Use the notes portion of each section to record suggestions for the next time the lesson is used.

11. Each lesson contains a combination of brief lectures and student activities designed for the objectives of each lesson. The lectures are short and the student activities are designed for students to experience the point or topic of the lecture. Both the lectures and the student activities may be modified as appropriate for a specific student group or topic.

12. Student handouts are included for selected sections of each lesson. When these are included, duplications for each student should be prepared prior to the class. Masters for overhead transparencies or PowerPoint presentations are also included for selected sections

13. After each lesson, students are asked to share the experiences they have had with their parents. A letter to the parents or a parent teen exercise is included with each lesson. Prepare the appropriate number of copies in advance and tell students this is part of the leadership experience. Solicit feedback from parents and record this in the notes for each lesson.

14. "Homework" as an after class assignment to enable students to use the topics in a situation outside the classroom is included in each lesson. Assign this at the end of the class and ask for reports, verbal or written, of the "homework" assignment prior to beginning a new lesson.

15. These materials, lectures, activities, and handouts come from many sources and care is taken to document the original source when it is known. If the original source or author is not known, a secondary source is given.


1. To learn that everyone can be a leader.

2. To understand that leaders differ.

3. To develop self-awareness about your personal leadership style.

Lesson Outline

Table 1. 


Section and Topic



1. Do you know?

Get Acquainted Activity

Introduction to Lesson


15 mins.

2. Leadership-Introduction

Lecture and Student Activity


25 mins.

3. Task vs. Relationship

Lecture and Discussion


15 mins.


5 mins.

4. Temperament Styles

Student Activity


15 mins.

5. Leadership Styles on Parade

Skit with Student Volunteers and Narrator


40 mins.

6. The 10 Commandments of Leadership




Letter to Parents


5 mins.

Teaching Guide

Section 1 - Do You Know?

Title: Do you Know....?

Description: To get acquainted and an introduction to the lesson

Purpose: To allow students to get acquainted with others in the class; to think about leaders as people they know in their community; to stimulate discussion about leadership

Time: About 15 minutes

Materials needed: Pencil and paper for students to write on and overhead A, objectives for this session

Directions to students:

1. Write the names or titles of people you consider to be leaders. List some persons that live in your neighborhood, city or community.

2. Form a group of three or four persons. Introduce yourself to the others in the small group. Tell your name, your grade and your school.

3. Share with the small group your list of leaders. Tell why you selected those persons for your list. Are any of the persons listed on different students' lists?

4. General Discussion: Teacher asks the following questions to generate discussion.

a. What reasons did you have for listing the persons you choose?

b. What kinds of leadership roles do these people have?

Following discussion, teacher puts objectives on overhead or on poster, then reads objectives and tells students this is what they will learn about in today's session and with the homework assignments.















Section 2 - Leadership - Introduction

Title: Leadership - Introduction

Description: Lecture and Student Activity

Purpose: To bring out what participants can learn about leadership styles

Time: About 25 minutes

Materials needed: "Leadership" lecture and Handouts 1, 2, 3, and 4

Directions: Give brief introduction and conduct activity.













Section 3 - Task Versus Relationships

Title: Task Versus Relationships

Description: Lecture and discussions

Purpose: To develop an understanding of yourself

Time: About 15 minutes

Materials needed: Lecture "Task versus Relationship"

Directions: Give brief presentation followed by activity for discussion.













Section 4 - Temperament Styles

Title: Temperament Styles

Description: Student Activity

Purpose: To understand yourself

Time: About 15 minutes

Materials needed: Overheads A-G, Posters (see page 18), Handouts 5 and 6.

Directions: Follow directions on page 18, Temperament Styles. Modify as needed.













Section 5 - Leadership Styles on Parade

Title: Leadership Styles on Parade

Description: Game to show that different leaders are known for different styles

Purpose: To show that there is no standard acceptable type of behavior that is right for every occasion; to show that the democratic style is right for most occasions

Time: About 40 minutes

Materials needed: Hats to depict leadership styles (see resources section). Student volunteers for five different roles.

Directions: Ask student volunteers to wear appropriate hat and read the narrative in a way that suggests the leadership style. Allow time for discussion of leadership styles.












Section 6 - The 10 Commandments of a Leader

Title: The 10 Commandments of a Leader

Description: Lecture and Discussion

Purpose: To bring closure to session

Time: About 5 minutes

Materials needed: Overhead H, Handouts 7 and 8


Review 10 Commandments of a Leader and relate these to the objectives.

Assign homework: See homework section. Make one copy for each student. Read over the assignment and relate it to the lesson. Tell them it will be discussed or handed in at the beginning of the next class.

Give Handouts 7 and 8 for reading.

Give letter for parents to each student to take home. See letter to parents section. Make one copy for each student. Tell them to share it with their parents.








Lecture Material

Leadership - Introduction

There has been a great amount of research done on the topic of "Leadership." As of yet, no researcher can lay claim to a comprehensive theory of leadership. There is no single recipe that will guarantee success for a leader in every situation. The purpose of this lesson brings out what participants can learn about leadership styles.


A. Ask students to think about a person who has been an effective leader. On a 3" x 5" card, write down a list of traits or characteristics that take him/her a good leader.

B. Have the group share their lists. Have someone write them down on a blackboard or flip chart. See Handout #1.

C. Tell students that there is no single word that describes a leader. In many cases it is the group situation that dictates the leadership characteristics that will work best. In some group situations emphasis needs to be put on the tasks to be accomplished and in other situations it is best to place emphasis on relationships and people.

D. Have each person complete Handout #2, "Leadership: It's Your Choice." Then pass out Handout #3 for them to mark their answers on.

E. Tell students this activity will help them to identify whether they are more task or relationship oriented.

F. Ask students if their line generally indicates that they are more task or relationship oriented.

G. Go over Handout #4, "How to Interpret Your Leadership Style."

Task Vs. Relationships

Research into leadership has a long history and many studies have been conducted.

No researcher can yet lay claim to a comprehensive, irrefutable theory of leadership. There is no single recipe that will guarantee success for a leader in every situation. Researchers first began investigating leadership by studying people who were considered to be great leaders and identifying their traits or characteristics. This trait theory resulted in interesting lists of characteristics, but leaders could always be found that possessed different characteristics.

Another approach was to look for common elements in leadership approaches to identify leadership styles. The study of leadership shifted from descriptions of leaders and styles to identification of leadership skills. Studies done at The Ohio State University concluded that leadership skills could be divided into two categories: (1) behaviors that are geared towards accomplishing tasks, and (2) behaviors that maintain good working relationships. The discovery of the task and relationship dimensions proved to be a major step forward in our understanding of leadership.

The task form of leadership is based on the idea that people believe that attention must first be given to getting work done. On the other hand, relationship people place more value on the relationships among people that occur in the process of accomplishing tasks.

Discussion Activitiy

On a 3" x 5" card write down an example of a leadership role that you have assumed in the last 12 months. In that group, was your style task or relationship oriented? Some people are able to change their styles depending on the group they are leading. A group that has been together for a long time, whose members are familiar with what they are doing, usually functions best with a leader who is more relationship oriented. A group that is just organizing, whose members are not quite sure of their roles, may function better with a task oriented leader.

Temperament Styles


Make 1 color coded poster for each Temperament Style shown on Handout #5 (page 36). Hang up the four posters in corners of the room. Highlight the characteristics in each group and have the participants gather around the poster that best describes their personality.

Make a note of how many people are in each group. Usually the two biggest groups are the green and blue.

Ask each group to discuss these questions.

1. Why do these qualities make a good leader?

2. With these qualities, what frustrations do you have as a leader?

Have each group select a spokesperson to share with the rest of the group.

Go over overheads A-E.

Driver - strengths and weaknesses

Analytical - strengths and weaknesses

Expressive - Strengths and weaknesses

Amiable - strengths and weaknesses

Cover Handout #5 - Temperament Styles

Style Observations

1. Pass out Handout #6 - Style Observations - Checklist.

2. Participants should read the statements in column 1 and 2, and pick the statement that most closely resembles their style. Tell them as they read down each list to look at the letters in front of each statement and mark a line between those letters starting closest to the axis. Tell them when they are finished to look at the box that has the most responses marked. This is another method of determining their style. Use overhead F & G.

Overhead Transparency Masters

Overhead A - Leadership Styles


Overhead B - Driver

Table 2. 


Significant Strengths

A. know what needs to be done

B. direct

C. energetic

D. control

E. decisive

F. cuts to bottom line

G. takes action and risk

Potential Weaknesses

A. impulsive

B. insensitivity

C. impatient

D. gives no specifics

E. too aggressive

Overhead C - Analytical

Table 3. 


Significant Strengths

A. thorough

B. organized

C. cautious

D. collects facts

E. logical

F. accurate

G. patient

Potential Weaknesses

A. collects too many facts

B. ponders too long

C. indecisive

Overhead D - Expressive

Table 4. 


Significant Strengths

A. likes people

B. liked by others

C. articulate

D. tolerant

E. recognizes needs in others

F. supportive

Potential Weaknesses

A. impulsive

B. monopolizes conversation

C. too emotional

D. misses detail

Overhead E - Amiable

Table 5. 


Significant Strengths

A. cooperative

B. supportive

C. calm

D. accepts suggestions

E. team players

F. ability to tolerate

Potential Weaknesses

A. avoids conflict

B. sometimes too emotional

C. slow to change

D. procrastinates

Overhead F - Style Observations-Checklist

Column 1

B-B Considerable body movement and/or uses hands freely
L-L Tends to lean back, not face-to-face in communication, occasional eye contact
A-A Cool, guarded in relationships
R-R Quick, fast pace, strong demanding speech
A-A Unresponsive facial expressions; more of a "poker face"
R-R Communication to the point, clear, definitive
B-B Actions open, expresses opinions; little emphasis on specific details
L-L Moderate use of voice, limited effort to take a stand, tend to leave situation unresolved
A-A Serious, thoughtful, and/or critical
L-L Facial expressions suggesting supportive, cooperative attitudes

R-R Facial expressions suggesting dominant, competitive attitudes

Column 2

A-A Controlled and/or limited body movements
R-R Tends to lean forward, faces other squarely, holds eye contact
B-B Warm, friendly, and emotional in relationships
L-L Deliberate, slow pace, quiet, and/or unassuming speech
B-B Responsive, animated facial expressions, smiles, frowns, nods
L-L Communication vague and indefinite; not to the point
A-A Actions cautious, careful, with emphasis upon facts and specific details
R-R Raises voice to emphasize points, takes a stand, presses for a decision
B-B Playful, fun-loving, and/or bantering

Overhead G - Style Observations Chart

Figure 1. 

Overhead H - 10 Commandments of a Leader

1. Be Positive About Yourself!

2. Be Positive About Others!

3. Be Patient And Tolerant With Yourself And Others!

4. Be Dependable And Reliable!

5. Be Willing To Accept Advice And Take Advantage Of Helpful Hints And Criticism!

6. Don't Be A Rumormonger!

7. Be Respectful Of Other's Property!

8. Listen!

9. Be Courteous!

1o. Welcome One And All!

Student Handouts

Handout #1 - Leadership Characteristics Sheet

Below is a list of characteristics which might be used to describe a group or community leader. You are to select five characteristics from this list - the ones you feel are the most important for a group leader and to rank the five characteristics in order of importance (1 being the most important; 5 the least important). List the five characteristics in the order you decide on by placing numbers next to your choices in the space provided. You have five minutes to complete this task.

_____ Initiative
_____ Interest in people
_____ Well organized
_____ Awareness of local politics
_____ Intelligence
_____ Emotional stability
_____ Cultural interests
_____ Loyalty to community
_____ Generalized experience
_____ Specialized experience
_____ Sense of humor
_____ Good socializer
_____ Respect in community
_____ Financial independence
_____ Physical health and vigor
_____ Grasp of local issues

Handout #2 - Leadership: It's Your Choice

Read each of the statements and circle your most likely response. Some of the choices may be difficult. If you really have a hard time making a choice, put an "X" by the number of the question and make the best choice you can.

1. I respect a leader who:

a. gets things done.

b. has the admiration of his/her colleagues.

2. When I am in a new group, the first thing I want to know is:

a. who the members are.

b. what the group activities are.

3. When a group is in conflict, they need to:

a. stop what they are doing and deal with the conflict.

b. ignore the conflict and continue working.

4. When a group is unclear about its goals, I frequently:

a. clarify the group's goals for them.

b. ask group members to clarify the goals.

5. I was just asked by the Chamber of Commerce to have our group give a presentation next week. The first thing I will do is:

a. call other group members to let them know.

b. start planning the presentation.

6. Mary Jane has been in charge of programming for our fundraiser for the last 3 years. She has done a good job, but some members think we should let someone else do it. I think:

a. Mary Jane should do it. She knows what she is doing and we need the fundraiser to go smoothly.

b. Mary Jane should be put in charge of a different part of the fundraiser. She can try something new, and someone else can get experience in programming.

7. When I feel comfortable with a group, I tend to:

a. suggest new projects, programs and ideas.

b. ask other members about their ideas, talents, etc.

8. The most satisfying part about working with my group is:

a. a sense of belonging and friendship with other group members.

b. a sense of accomplishment for what we have done.

9. What frustrates me most about long-range planning meetings is:

a. when one or two members make all the decisions.

b. when members talk on and on about their ideas.

10. Our group is taking on a project we have never done before. I will:

a. write up a plan of action and present it to the group.

b. suggest that the group discuss the new project before we draw up plans.

11. When I am in a new group, people's first impression of me would probably be:

a. I know what I am doing.

b. I am a caring person.

12. When I am under pressure to make a decision, I:

a. sit down by myself and make the decision.

b. talk to people and get their feedback and ideas.

13. When a group disagrees, they should:

a. do what the majority wants to do.

b. look for something on which they can all agree.

14. Our group is putting on a public forum, which we do every year. The first thing we should do is:

a. talk about what we liked about last year's forum and what we would like to change.

b. reassign committees and delegate individual responsibilities.

15. After groups have worked together for a while, they tend to:

a. assume everyone agrees, so they don't pay attention to individual members.

b. lost track of what they are doing, and don't do anything.

16. I dislike it when a new group:

a. goes "full steam ahead" without seeing if all members are in agreement.

b. wastes time with talking about themselves and neglecting the work to be done.

17. I am afraid that in group settings people think that I am:

a. too pushy.

b. too "wishy-washy."

18. Our group has 6 months to plan a workshop. We should:

a. have group planning meetings so that everyone can be involved in planning.

b. delegate the different planning responsibilities to individual group members.

19. People that have worked with me for a while appreciate my:

a. communication skills.

b. organizational skills.

20. I pride myself on my:

a. relationships.

b. achievements.

Prepared for FCL use by Terry Flynn, FCL Project Associate Washington State University Family Community Leadership

Handout #3 - Task/Relationship Graph

The numbers of the questions are written across the top. Notice that the questions are not listed in order. The possible answers to these questions are written below. Circle the answer you selected for each question. Draw a line (a red pen works best) connecting the answer you chose, like a graph. If you have placed an "X" on any of the numbered statements, transfer the "X" to the appropriate number on the scoring sheet.

Take a look at the line you have drawn. Is it fairly consistent or are there frequent changes? Are there more changes in different categories? Now look at any X's you may have placed on the numbers. Are there many X's? Are the X's located in one or two categories?

Table 6. 

General Tendencies






Clear, Known

Unclear, New

Tight Deadlines

Few Time Constraints

Question No.

1 3 8 13 17 20

2 11 16

7 15 19

6 14

4 10

5 12



a b b a b b

b a b

a b b

a b

a a

b a

b b


b a a b a a

a b a

b a a

b a

b b

a b

a a

Handout #4 - How to Interpret Your Leadership Style

While no theory on leadership has yet to give us all the answers, each provides us with a new way to look at our leadership tendencies. For example, look at the graph you have just completed on leadership approach. It draws on several facets of leadership:

The major separation of Task and Relationship is based on the idea that some people believe that attention must first be given to getting work done. On the other hand, Relationship people place more value on the relationships among people that occur in the process of accomplishing work. These distinctions do not mean that one way is good or right and the other is bad or wrong. It is merely a difference in priorities that can be observed in certain styles or behaviors.

In general, did your line indicate that you were more task or relationship oriented?

Do you think that is true?

What does that tell you?

The categories indicate different types of situations you may encounter as a leader.

On your graph, does your behavior change in different categories?

Do you think a new group requires more leadership direction than an established group?

Do you act differently if you have a tight time deadline?

How do you approach complex or vague tasks?

Your answers to these questions tell you more about your leadership approach. They also help you analyze leadership theories. Remember, you don't have to "buy" every theory of leadership. They are merely tools to help you assess and improve your leadership abilities.

The underlying precept of most leadership theories is that a leader's behavior should change according to the people that are involved and/or the task at hand. This is called "Situational Leadership."

Handout #5 - Temperament Styles

Table 7. 

If You Are...

You're Probably Good At...



I. Forceful





Self-Assured Competitive

Initiating new Ideas

Getting results

Making decisions, solving problems

Taking authority

YELLOW Expressive

II. Enthusiastic









Generating enthusiasm

Interacting with others

Offering assistance

GREEN Analytical

III. Systematic







Following directions

Working with specific assignment

Being diplomatic

Doing crucial thinking



IV. Patient







Patience and understanding

Loyalty Listening

Working with new challenges


Adapted by Jean Ford Co., 1982, from: Emily Kittle Kimball, "Getting the Most from Volunteering." Citizen Action, Spring 1982, p. 14, for use at Western Regional Leadership Training Conference, Extension Homemakers, 1982, Las Vegas.

Handout #6 - Style Observations-Checklist.

Column 1

B-B Considerable body movement and/or uses hands freely
L-L Tends to lean back, not face-to-face in communication, occasional eye contact A-A Cool, guarded in relationships
R-R Quick, fast pace, strong demanding speech
A-A Unresponsive facial expressions; more of a "poker face"
R-R Communication to the point, clear, definitive
B-B Actions open, expresses opinions; little emphasis on specific details
L-L Moderate use of voice, limited effort to take a stand, tend to leave situation unresolved
A-A Serious, thoughtful, and/or critical
L-L Facial expressions suggesting supportive, cooperative attitudes

Column 2

A-A Controlled and/or limited body movements
R-R Tends to lean forward, faces other squarely, holds eye contact
B-B Warm, friendly, and emotional in relationships
L-L Deliberate, slow pace, quiet, and/or unassuming speech
B-B Responsive, animated facial expressions, smiles, frowns, nods
L-L Communication vague and indefinite; not to the point
A-A Actions cautious, careful, with emphasis upon facts and specific details
R-R Raises voice to emphasize points, takes a stand, presses for a decision
B-B Playful, fun-loving, and/or bantering
R-R Facial expressions suggesting dominant, competitive attitudes

Figure 2. 

Handout #7 - What Do Leaders Do?

What are some of the more important jobs or functions a leader has to perform? The general "job" of leadership, first of all, is to knit individuals into a cooperative functioning group. This task (job) is necessary because no two members ever join a group for the same reason. Thus, these diverse individual reasons must be drawn into a common agreement or consensus before a group can hope to function. Proper functioning leads to goal achievement by adequately delegating responsibility to get the job done.

The second "job" of leadership is to work with the group. This happens in many ways, depending on the ability and maturity of the group. Group maturity is determined by length of organization, membership group experience and other related factors. A good leader will help the group in the following ways.

  • Define and interpret the purposes for which it was organized

  • Clarify the responsibilities of the various officers, committees, and individual members to aid in program planning

  • Find alternative methods of reaching the goal

  • Keep within its defined purposes and goals

  • Keep growing into a more progressive organization

  • Evaluate where it started, where it is now, and where it wants to go. Of course, for any individual with leadership responsibility to carry out these various jobs adequately there must be a thorough understanding of the group. In order for a lay leader to thoroughly understand the group there must be a close working relationship between the leader and the other group members.

Your leadership responsibilities are normally, although not always, carried out in voluntary, special interest groups. Some examples of voluntary groups are: 4-H, Key Club, student government, and class offices. The decisions most leaders make daily are not so complicated that they get worldwide publicity. Yet, you are one of the leaders who keep our country strong and operating efficiently. The value of the various leadership roles which you, your neighbors and friends fill is immeasurable.

When it was stated that everyone was at times a leader you may have been skeptical. Now in classifying children as leaders your skepticism has probably doubled. An explanation of these "leadership" premises are in order before you stop reading.

Where Are Opportunities for Being a Leader?

Did you ever think that parents are leaders as they make family decisions, or that older brothers and sisters are leaders as they guide the actions (either consciously or unconsciously) of younger brothers and sisters? Even small children at play have a "leader." These preceding examples are probably not the ones that normally pop into your mind when you think of leadership--yet influence is exerted by someone in every one of the above situations.

Did you ever watch children at play? They often change leaders for every new game. This is leadership at its best. Perhaps small children realize that no one individual has all of the skills and/or knowledge necessary to be best at everything. For certain, young children have not yet learned to guard their leadership positions as jealously as we adults. Therefore, a new leader emerges with a new situation. Perhaps, it is unfortunate that part of our childhood wisdom is sometimes forgotten.

Ever since Adam and Eve, whenever two or more people have congregated, a leader emerges. Small, informal groups may have no elected leader, yet they do have leader(s). Our more complex organizations, (e.g., federal government) have a hierarchy of leadership. Stated another way, within the more formal organizations there are different levels of elected leaders or decision-makers. Decisions are made up and down the line, from the President to the custodian and back again. Only the number of people influenced by the decision and/or the intensity of the influence varies.

Thus, it can be seen that leadership is not an "all or none" matter. On the contrary, each member is to some extent a leader as he or she exerts some influence upon the other members of a group; that is, the group with which a member is currently interacting since you are a member of more than one group. How many groups are you a member of today? You undoubtedly exerted influence upon others and they on you.

Adapted by Elizabeth Bolton, Extension Leadership Development Specialist, from Mr. Daryl K. Heasley. Leadership Training for You. Pennsylvania State University.

Handout #8 - Which Leadership Style is Best?

Everyone realizes that since no two individuals are the same, neither can any two leaders be the same. That is, all leaders have different ways of conducting meetings to get the job done. Consider for a moment the host of meetings you have attended in many different groups to which you belong. You know that there are no two individuals who ever conduct a meeting the same way. Each leader has a different style or type of leadership.

Types of Leaders

Any particular individual may fit one or more of these broader leadership types: autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire. However, the general tendency is for a person to maintain a particular leadership pattern once it has been established. These three types of leadership may be either on the formal or informal level. As you study these various leadership types you can probably think of individuals who "fit" each type.

Autocratic Leader

The autocratic type of leader has been called a "snoopervisor" or a "one-man show" because he/she is constantly checking on the members to see that they carry out his/her decisions. Someone has said, "autocratic leaders are generally so narrow-minded they can look through a small knot hole with both eyes." Do you know anyone like this? People lead groups this way to help overcome frustrations or through ignorance of a better way to lead. Other organizations, such as the Armed Forces, are so complex that they may need autocratic leadership to keep the group functioning. Most organizations to which we belong, however, are not as complex as the Armed Forces.

The autocratic type of leadership is analogous to a one way street; the leader gives the orders and the members carry these orders out. The orders are never questioned openly. Hence, such orders may not be understood by the members. The autocratic leader sees the task of understanding as his job and not the job of the other group members. Whether members understand the task is of no concern to the autocratic leaders, as long as the end result is done to the leader's satisfaction. The leader has set the group standards. This type of leadership may have a place in our society; however, the "place" is specific and limited, as was cited previously with the Armed Forces.

Laissez-Faire Leader

Whereas the autocratic leader has an overabundance of self confidence or authority, the laissez-faire leader has neither of these two characteristics. Consequently, he/she avoids direct contact with the group members as much as possible. With laissez-faire leadership, the group decides what should be done and how it should be done. The group never gets much accomplished since there is not a delegated leader to coordinate its activities. Laissez-faire leadership is also a one way street, but it runs in the other direction. The laissez-faire leader sets no clear goals. He/she is often not capable of making decisions alone or helping the group arrive at workable decisions. The group has no clear set of standards, so things simply drift along. Unlike autocratic leadership, laissez-faire leadership never seems to have a place within an active, functioning group.

Democratic Leader

Democratic leadership has been called the happy medium. In point of fact, it is the way of life that our country believes best for governing her people. Should it not also be the best type of leadership for “leading a small group?

The democratic leader lets the group share in all phases of the organization's work; that is, all phases of work within the group’s present capabilities. This is the superhighway approach. The insightful democratic leader also recognizes that group capabilities change. Thus, the responsibilities given to the group should change as capabilities change. This point is especially important for the leader of volunteer groups such as 4-H. Capabilities change as individuals learn new skills. Have you re-evaluated your group's capabilities lately? Have the responsibilities been updated to be in line with the capabilities?

Group participation and decision-making within the group capability framework, is encouraged and strengthened by the democratic leader. Increased participation leads to increased member commitment and involvement, which in turn, leads to a more active, productive group complete with a satisfied membership. The democratic group feels the successes and/or failures of the group are theirs and not the leader's. In true democratic leadership, the leader is apart of the group rather than apart from it. The motto of a true democratic leader seems to be.

"I will make myself as unnecessary as I can as soon as possible; since this will ultimately be of most benefit to the group of which I am a member."

In other words, the democratic leader delegates the responsibility to various members rather than keeping all of the "power" to himself. The democratic group has a clear-cut set of goals together with a clear understanding of how to obtain these goals. The goals have been arrived at by a cooperative group effort.

Adapted by Elizabeth Bolton, Extension Leadership Development Specialist, from Mr. Daryl K. Heasley. Leadership Training for You. Pennsylvania State University.


Leadership Styles on Parade Exercise


1. To analyze behaviors of leadership roles

2. To show comparisons of leadership styles

Group Size

This may be presented to large or small groups. There are six players: one for each leadership role and a narrator.

Time Required
Approximately 30 to 45 minutes for youth groups
Materials Needed
1. A hat or other costume props which depict an exaggerated version of leadership role.
2. Copy of perception quiz.
Physical Setting
A stage or other area that players can walk on.
1. Narrator - as in a talk show host
2. Fanny Cavalier
3. Alma Martyr
4. Heavy Controller
5. Chicken Abdicator
6. Happy Activator
1. Narrator sets stage and introduces each player
2. Player acts out part and speaks the script.
3. After each player, audience writes down perceptions of character
4. After all characters are finished, narrator leads discussion on characters portrayed
5. When discussion is over, narrator reads poem.


Welcome to leadership styles on parade. Several community leaders are with us this afternoon to share their leadership styles. Our first guest is Alma Martyr, president of the Delta Upsilon Delta Alumni.


Oh me, oh my, I'm so tired. I am just exhausted. And do you know why? I have spent the whole morning over at the Delta Upsilon Delta House cleaning, dusting and vacuuming in preparation for fall rush. I am just worn out. Actually, though if you want something done you have to do it yourself. You can't count on anyone else to do it for you. Work, work, work, that's all I do.

The other alumni help if I complain enough about my bad back and remind everyone how busy I am and how hard I work. Then they usually feel bad enough to pitch in. They don't particularly enjoy having me say that, but I am the one who has to remind them of what the by-laws clearly state, and they will come around. And sometimes they just get mad and blame each other. I'll be leaving now because I've got to go and prepare the food for the rush parties.


Take a minute and write down what you think the dominant characteristics of this behavior style are. (After 5 minutes) Our next guest is Mrs. Fanny Cavalier.


Hi, how ya doing? My name is Fanny Cavalier and I am the governor of the Florida Republicrats. We formed this group so that young folks could have a chance to get involved in the political process; causes, referendums, voter registration and all that kind of fun stuff. I was asked to speak of the goals of our group. Well, I thought about it and mostly what we do is have parties and at those parties we just plan to have some more parties. Our real goal is to meet lots of exciting people and have fun. That's what I call politicking! Political party means just dull politics to some folks but it means party to me. Some folks say they get kind of frustrated but they are the fuddy duddies and they just don't know how to have fun. We get lots of things done in a fun way. Mostly our work is done at the last minute. That way, nobody really worries about anything. We are just all happy all the time.


Write down what you think the dominant characteristics of this style is. (After 5 minutes, introduce Heavy Controller)


Good Day! My name is Mrs. Heavy Controller from the First Alienated Church. I'll just tell it like it is -- I run a tight ship at the church board meetings. I don't put up with any dilly dallyings at MY meetings. I happen to know that the minister's wife told you that I am occasionally threatening, intimidating to members, but I can tell you a thing or two about her. My groups get a lot done because I crack the whip and they better jump. We start early, work hard, stay late. I have an iron clad agenda -- and they better be there. When I say work, they work. I don't share a lot of information -- just enough to get my point across. We get a lot done, but it amazes me that some of those members don't appreciate me. They just quit and go to the church across town and I say good riddance. They were too lazy to put up with me anyway. I'm leaving, my time is up. I can't stay because I am going to see the minister's wife, right now.


Take a minute and write down what you think are the dominant characteristics of this style. (After 5 minutes, introduce Chicken Abdicator)


I don't usually appear on panels or talk shows and I don't like to tell everybody that I'm Mrs. Chicken Abdicator, Chick for short, Director of the Bureau of Consunder Upsets. If too many people know who I am, I get calls and they want me to make choices that are really very difficult. If really important decisions have to be made, then I just call a meeting. If it's really important, I take annual leave or go to Washington for a week or two. By the time I get back, things have already taken care of themselves. I write a lot of memos that don't really mean anything. Sometimes, I just schedule a meeting when people can't come.

The group really makes the decisions and that way I don't get blamed for anything. After all, it's their organization and they ought to make the decisions. If they make a mistake, it's not my fault. I've got to go now because the secretary is trying to reach me at this meeting. I really don't need to go back to the office, she can just let those people decide what to do.


Write down what you think the dominant characteristic of this style is. (After five minutes, introduce Happy Activator)


I am Happy Activator. I am president of the 4-H Club. It is good to have such a nice crowd here today. I just love sharing what we do in 4-H with other groups. We get lots of work done and enjoy it too. Our secret for success in winning so many state and county awards is one word -- Teamwork. Every member has a part to play in making our club as successful as it is. When we work on a project, it is usually because one of us sees a problem or a need in the community and we all talk it over and try to agree on what part of the problem we think we can tackle. Sometimes it seems like it takes as long to really clarify the problem as it does to solve it.

Anyway, we keep on talking about it until everyone agrees on what needs to be done. We do whatever research is needed, and then we set our goals. We set them very specifically, including a time line. We organize the steps we need to take, create a plan of action and assign jobs to everyone. When we finish, we sit down and evaluate what happened, and of course we write it down so it becomes a part of the record. You will be surprised how many awards we have won using this simple formula.

My role as the club leader is to really listen. I guess you could say that I am an active listener. People ask me what an active listener is. I try to understand what the members are trying to say, and I make sure everyone is listening to each other. I try to bring out the quiet ones, make sure everyone is included and has a chance to share their thoughts. Sometimes the quietest person has the best ideas.


Leaders are usually motivated by one of two basic desires. A leader is either concerned about increasing his/her own prestige or about making the group a more productive team. He/She either obtains the greatest satisfaction from raising his/her own status in the eyes of the community or else is rewarded because he/she has led a successful and cooperating group to task accomplishments. A leader's roles can dramatically affect the degree of role flexibility.

If a leader is interested only in himself or herself, they will be rigid, demanding and controlling. He or she will be more interested in telling people how they want things done than in listening to what they have to say. They like to be in control all the time. Such a leader is inflexible, a controller who wants personal recognition for all the glory of success.

On the other hand, this same leader could become more effective if he/she knew when to involve the group in the decision making process. Using the combined skills and knowledge of his/her whole team, instead of simply relying on himself/herself, would probably lead to better solutions and a more productive group.

The goal of the effective leader is to be flexible in his/her leadership style. But flexibility does not mean permissiveness. A good leader knows how to involve people, and at the same time, how to structure their ideas toward task accomplishment. Therefore he/she must be adept at assessing the situation and choosing the most appropriate leadership role.

Adapted from: Klein, Glenn. Leadership in Community Groups. Family Community Leadership. Oregon Cooperative Extension Service, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, 1983, and a presentation at NEHC, Laramie, Wyoming, 1983.

Perception Quiz

1. _______________________________







2. _______________________________







3. _______________________________







4. _______________________________







5. _______________________________







Are You an Active Leader?

Are you an active leader, the kind that would be missed,
Or are you just contented, to have your name upon the list?
Do you schedule meetings to plan, not criticize and knock,
Or are you the chicken, who abdicates the flock?
Do you take an active part, to help the work along,
Or are you heavy handed, a controller, right or wrong?
Do you ever help the others, to see the work gets done,
Or do you just throw parties, act cavalier, have fun?
Do you work with members, to delegate and share,
Or do you just seek pity, like a martyr, that unfair?
Do you ever work on committees, to see there is no trick,
Or leave the work to just a few, and talk about the clique?
So come to meetings often, and help hand and heart,
So don't be just a member, take an active leader part!
Elizabeth Bolton
Adapted from poem by Anonymous Author

Homework Assignment

Homework Instructions

  1. Pick one person you think is a leader. Interview that person. Find out how this leader defines leadership. Ask if your interviewee has any suggestions on what one needs to learn to be a leader. How did your interviewee learn these things? Prepare to share your findings.

  2. Complete the "Leadership Evaluation Checklist" for next session.

Leadership Evaluation Checklist

Table 8. 




Most of the Time



1. Do I have a desire to lead?





2. Am I group minded?





3. Do I like to work with people?





4. Am I willing to work?





5. Do I have vision?





6. Am I tolerant with people with whom I disagree?





7. Am I aware of the need for facts and additional information?





8. Do I take pride in what I do?





9. Do I assume responsibilities?





10. Do I try to help others become leaders?





11. Am I persistent?





12. Am I able to motivate and influence others?





13. Am I a good listener?





14. Do I have the ability to cope with problems?


Always _____ X 5 =

Most of the time _____ X 4 =

Sometimes _____ X 3 =

Never _____ X 1 =

Total _____


Letter to Parents

You Can Be a Leader

Dear Parent:

Your child has just completed the first lesson of a series in leadership development for youth. This lesson dealt with the concepts of being a leader in today's society. The broad purpose of this lesson is to help the student understand that everyone has the potential to be a leader. This purpose is carried out in having the student list people he/she thinks of as being a leader. Following that, community leaders addressed the class and shared their experiences with the students about how they learned certain skills or attitudes they found to be helpful in their work or community involvement. The class activities included lectures, role plays and group activities to increase understanding and personal growth.

Students often wonder why some of their peers get elected to school offices and seem to be involved in everything. On the other hand, there are others who seem to be competent and intelligent but never seem to have a chance to excel in a leadership role. It is important for students to realize that the skills and attitudes that enable one to be a leader can be learned.

Help your child develop his/her awareness that people become leaders in their field or community through a conscious effort of self knowledge and self development. A homework assignment is attached to this letter. Please read the handout and the assignment. Think of other ways to develop your child's awareness that life is full of choices and one of them is to be a leader at an early age. One way to see that this happens is to focus on newspaper articles that show teens in positive ways that demonstrate achievement and intellectual growth.

It will take some time on your part to begin to focus your child's attention and reading on growing in leadership. But the outcomes will be worth it. You can make a difference in your child's leadership development.

Very truly yours,

University of Florida County Extension Faculty


Elder, J. (1990). Leadership Styles. In Archer, T., Elder, J., Goodbar, K., Hodson, R., and Kelon, S. (Eds.) (October, 1990). Teen Community Leadership College, 2nd Edition. Shelby County Ohio: Ohio Cooperative Extension Service.

Flynn, Terry (N.D.) Leadership: It's your choice. Family Community Leadership. Pullman, WA: Washington State University.

Jean Ford Co., (Spring, 1982). Temperament styles. In Kimball, Emily K., Getting the most from volunteering. Citizen Action, p. 14.

Heasley, Daryl K. (N.D.). Leadership Training For You. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University.

Klein, Glenn. (1983). Leadership in community groups. Family Community Leadership. Corvallis, OR: Oregon Cooperative Extension Service

Developing Skills for Youthful Leaders

Developing Skills for Youthful Leaders is a six part curriculum designed for volunteers who work with young people. It is designed to enable teachers to apply a systematic approach to training youth for leadership roles in schools and neighborhoods. Each module includes training materials and activities that can be used for leadership education for students and youth groups. Partial funding for the development of these modules was provided by The Junior Woman's Club of Milton, Florida.


Module I - You Can Be A Leader
Module II - Knowing and Accepting Yourself
Module III - Being Your Best
Module IV - Communicating With Others
Module V - Listening Skills to Improve Communication
Module VI - Making a Decision

Developed by:

Elizabeth B. Bolton, Professor
Community Development
University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Gainesville, FL 32611-0310

Assistance provided by:

John R. Rutledge, Former Associate Professor
4-H Youth Specialist
University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Gainesville, FL 32611-0520
Linda Bowman and Linda Barber
Santa Rosa County Cooperative Extension
Milton, FL 32570-8944



This document is FCS9088, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original print publication date 1993. Revised and published on EDIS March 2006. Reviewed July 2009 and March 2013. Visit the EDIS website at


Elizabeth B. Bolton, Professor, Community Development, John R. Rutledge, Former Associate Professor, 4 H- Youth Specialist, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611-0310, Linda Bowman, Family Consumer Sciences Agent and Linda Barber, Former 4-H Agent, Santa Rosa County Cooperative Extension Service, Milton, FL.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.