So I’m trying to reflect on some of my experiences this past month being a second year Municipal Liaison (ML) for NaNoWriMo:Atlanta (aka, NaNoLanta.) For those not knowledgeable about NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, where the goal is to write 50,000 words during November. This was my seventh year doing NaNoWriMo and my second year as a ML.
Last year was spent really learning the ropes in a masterful work of baptism by fire and was frantic the entire month. This year I had more of a chance to be intentional about things. So, I’m trying to glean some lessons from the, well, madness of November and late October.
And first among these lessons is going to be about expertise vs. enthusiasm. I’m pretty enthusiastic about NaNoWriMo and definitley wear a cheer leader’s outfit well. I’ve got the energy to devote to making NaNoWriMo Atlanta good. But I am so not the most knowledgeable person in the region when it comes to the mechanics of writing. Especially publishing. I’ve never published a work of fiction, and it’s not like I’m planning to anytime soon. But a lot of people have told me I made a pretty good leader of NaNoLanta. So, what gives.
I’ve always somewhat thought that having a strong content knowledge was essential for being a good leader. Having expertise in what you are trying to lead. I suppose you could say I had expertise in doing NaNoWriMo for so many years and all, but I’m not all that knowledge about, well, writing. I just do it for the fun of it. So if we’re looking at credentials, I’m not the most qualified leader.
But having the best knowledge doesn’t make you a good leader. It’s being likable, it’s being respected, and its being energetic and enthusiastic. It’s being committed to a goal, and committed to helping your, well, followers reach their goal. Being a leader is all about motivating your followers, not being the smartest guy or gal in the bunch.
But let’s face it. As UUs, we tend to be drawn more to the knowledge side. The most knowledgeable tend to be the leaders we respect the most. Sure there is room for enthusiasm and there are leaders who lead by enthusiasm. But how often when we look for a lay leader to do something, we think “they know how to this, they know how to get this done” versus how often to we think “this person has the energy to get this done, they have the enthusiasm to get this done.” Something to consider.