Lego Leadership

I am sure by now we have all seen the Lego Movie, at least 100 times.  If I started singing “Everything is Awesome” it would get stuck in your head for at least a week.  Your welcome, by the way.

The reason I bring up the Lego movie is because I like movies for what they can teach us. I look at the Lego Movie, and I see a lesson in leadership. Something we can all stand to learn from and strive to become.

The great battle of the Lego Movie is between the “instruction followers” and the “Master Builders.” Those drones that only follow what the instructions tell them to, and the Master Builders who have vision and creativity, and can seemingly create greatness from nothing. 

This dichotomy raises the question; are we an instruction follower type of leader; the kind that looks at the plans and sticks to them, no matter what?  Or, are we a leader that resembles a Master Builder; one with vision, creativity, and can make things happen?

Now, I know there are many different theories of leadership out there, and I am not trying to add another one. But when I watch movies, I look for other meanings and deeper purposes in them. Here is the interesting thing about the Lego Movie, the secret to being a Master Builder, is that you have to first start as an instruction follower.

Before you can be a visionary leader, you have to be able to see and understand a problem, issue, or opportunity for what it is; a bunch of smaller individual problems stacked on top of and below other individual issues. You can only begin to understand the construction of a problem by being an instruction follower.

You start by looking at the first page of the Lego instructions, laying out the correct pieces, then turning to the next page and looking for the new pieces being used. You look for where they snap together with the existing pieces, and how that sets the model up for the next set of pieces on the following page. From this experience, you learn how specific pieces work, what they can do and what they cannot do. You learn their limitations, as well as new and exciting ways a piece can be used.

Once you do your time working with the instructions and learning the rules, that is when you start to catch a vision for other possibilities.  You begin to see things a little differently.  You now see where a specific piece used in one area can be used to help create something in another part of your instructions. The pieces don’t change, you just find new and interesting ways to use them.

All that time with the instructions has shown you where you can make changes here and little improvements there.  Maybe your improvements only make things look better, or maybe they change the entire model for the better.  Either way, you cannot begin to be visionary until you do your time with the basics.

So how does this apply to Scouting?  I am so glad you asked.  We all start as a leader, somewhere.  We have to begin.  At that point of entry into leadership, we are instruction followers.  We have to be, because we don’t much and that is the only way to learn. We have to begin by learning the basics, where pieces fit together, how the first step relates to the second, the third and the fourth step. We don’t have enough experience to see the whole model because we have to focus on learning the basics.

As a leader in Scouting, we cannot have the perfect troop at the start of our journey.  It just isn’t possible. So we begin. We start as an instruction following leader.  We get trained! We try to figure out where the pieces all fit together.  The final product may be ugly the first time. So, you try again. You keep following the instructions until we start to get things right. Once that happens, then you begin to lay that visionary foundation that is the basis of all great leaders.

Once you do your time following the instructions, then you can begin to be a Master Builder.  Then you begin to build your vision.  Your model may not look like the box, and that is okay.  Your model may be better, it may work for your specific situation, it still follows all the rules but it has grown to fill your specific need.

Whether its building a family, career, or Scouting unit, the process is all the same.

Its okay to be Emmet, from the start of the Lego Movie. We all have to start somewhere. After we do time learning, then we progress to Emmet, the Master Builder.

Be a Master Builder and begin to create. Everything is Awesome, Everything is Cool when your on Scouting’s team.

Hope that doesn’t get stuck in your head.


Author: theprofessionalscouter

I am a professional Scouter, having worked for the BSA for 12 years. I started my career in 2006 as a District Executive with the Nevada Area Council headquartered in Reno, Nevada. In 2009, I moved to the Chief Seattle Council, in Seattle, Washington to serve as a Senior District Executive and then as a District Director. In January of 2016, I transferred to the Great Salt Lake Council to serve as a District Director.

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