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Leading a Group

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 13 May 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Group Leader Instructor Difference

So many of us are able to enjoy our love of the outdoors and our participation in adventure sports activities because at some point somebody took the time and effort to train us and to nurture our love for a particular activity or activities.

Without group leaders, some outdoor adventure pursuits would simply be too dangerous for us to take up without having firstly been educated about the risks and dangers and been given instruction and it’s important that the traditions of instruction and leadership are carried forth to future generations which is why so many people choose to become group leaders or instructors.

What’s the Difference Between an Instructor and a Group Leader?

Firstly, a group leader is not the same as an instructor. The latter is usually involved with teaching people specific skills in order to take up a particular sport or outdoor activity whereas a group leader will often be focused on the combined effort of a group of people who are all sharing a common goal and, for the most part, the group leader will expect that the participants will already possess a certain degree of competence and skill and have some experience of participating in the activity previously.That said, the roles are interlinked and, in certain cases, may overlap.

What Skills and Personal Qualities do You Need to Become a Group Leader?

In addition to having the appropriate level of experience and skills to undertake the chosen activity, a group leader should also possess a good understanding of people management and leadership abilities and there are many different courses they can go on in each outdoor activity discipline to reach the required standard in leading a group. These courses will usually be a combination of general leadership skills combined with knowledge and skills relevant to the specific activity itself.

More than anything else, perhaps, is the ability to be seen as a role model to the rest of the group. A successful group leader may have demonstrated this over their years of participating in a particular activity whereby they have reached a level of accomplishment and expertise that others can respect. Nevertheless, a highly thought of group leader will never consider themselves more than just one equal part of a team of people all sharing a common goal. In other words, they should never come across as being ‘above’ other members of the group.

They should have good communication skills and find it easy to interact with others. Successful leaders have a knack of getting into the psyche of other team members and can quickly grasp what makes them tick. This can be very useful in helping to motivate others achieve their goals in that the group leader will adopt different techniques for different types of personalities in order that everybody fulfils their aims and reaches their full potential.

They will have a mature attitude to the activity and will feel highly responsible for the welfare of other team members with a desire to help them. They will also show good judgement and common sense when out performing the activity.

What areGroup Leaders There to do?

Their number one priority is always going to be the welfare and safety of the rest of the group and to ensure that group members themselves adopt a healthy cautious approach to their own well being through the use of dialogue between the leader themselves and the group.

They are also there to educate the group. For example, they might instigate a conversation about conservation and care for the environment or will offer them tips and techniques to improve the group’s skills in a particular activity. Or they might be able to offer them advice on hidden dangers and hazards through their own experience of encountering these kinds of things on different trips they’ve been on.

They will also be there to plan the activity and to evaluate equipment and other safety elements and risks, e.g. assessing weather conditions and how that might impact upon the activity and any adaptations they may need to make will usually be a role carried out by the group leader.

Additionally, they will also be able to answer any general issues or concerns that people may have or answer specific questions related to the activity and they will be able to offer advice to others. In essence, the group leader will be the main focal point to whom people will turn to if things go wrong on the trip especially but they are there to deal with these kinds of things and to offer reassurance and help.

A calming influence is crucial to the role of being a group leader but probably the most important element to becoming a successful one is an ability to communicate with others in an educating, informative and friendly manner in order that everybody knows what’s expected of them, that people feel reassured and that the activity or event passes off smoothly and successfully.

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