Saturday, September 27, 2008

... on Leadership

So the highland games season is over and competitive bands are retreating into the woodwork to either lick their wounds, change leadership or the direction in which they are moving or simply improve on this year's performance. All these changes involve player ups and downs. For the competitive band, it seems there is no let up to the personnel or musical issues to maintain their spot in the pecking order or to advance to the next level. What does bother me though is the loss of a band like the Windsor Police. Can it rise from the ashes as did the Toronto Police just a year earlier? I doubt it, since the prime ingredient to a top level band is leadership. Every band has it - FMM with Richard Parkes , Shotts with Robert Mathieson, SLOT with Terry Tully and the list goes on. Name a band and its Pipe Major will immediately come to the fore. Windsor evidently sought a new leader but were not successful and let me tell you from experience, that leaders are not so much created from within the band as being born with the talents to successfully satisfy the many minds and egos that come together in Grade 1. So internal searches just are not the answer. You have to laud the Peel Regional Police for luring John Cairns away from a successful career in the SL-78th Fraser Highlanders. Obviously, they examined their direction, analyzed their needs and did their homework. A good leader will attract players as well. Take for example the HOE, Shotts and Dykehead this past year - 13 new players in their ranks and another successful season. Will Peel be the success story for 2009? Top players are in short supply and bands of today must spread their net far and wide to acquire the numbers. I recently talked with a friend of mine who is Pipe Major of a Grade 2 band. Through no fault of his leadership, the numbers have dwindled recently - some leaving for school - some retiring - others taking a leave of absence. Essentially downgrading is the only answer to remaining competitive. With this comes the hope of once again being able to attract players over the short term - idealistic in a confined and very competitive market. So what can we do to maintain a stable number of top flight Grade 1 and 2 bands? I think the answer lies with strong leadership and training programs ! So, all you leaders out there, prepare to take over bands at the upper level. Perhaps within Windsor Police lies the talent to field a Grade 2 band. Now find the leader!