So what makes a good Leader?

Oxford Canal Apr12The launch of the British Canoeing’s new Paddlesport Leader award earlier this month has focused attention on leadership skills but just what is it we are looking for in a good leader?

Well, if we believe the media coverage of the upcoming general election here in the UK we might think its all about being in ‘strong and stable’! But while these are great attributes in a leader I think we might agree that there’s rather more to it than that.

For me good leadership is about taking people on journeys that they had previously only dreamed of. And sometimes with just enough challenge to take them places that that they had never even dreamed might possible. In marketing terms it’s about delighting customers – and then exceeding their expectations.

A good leader therefore has to understand the people they are leading, their needs and expectations, and the environment and challenges that are proposed for them. The philosophy underpinning the new Paddlesport Leader award brings these elements together, considering the influences on leadership behaviour and style driven by the situation, the group’s characteristics and needs and the leader’s own personality, experience and values.

The new award complements British Canoeing’s personal skills and coaching schemes and will be of particular interest to those working in recreational clubs and centres but is also relevant to those supervising training programmes for racing paddlers . For those who want to look at the underlying leadership principles in more detail British Canoeing has launched an e-learning programme that can be accessed free of charge at

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