A Life Full of Meaning: Some Suggestions and Some Material by R. W. J. Keeble

By R. W. J. Keeble

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When one asks a group of adult trainees what are the functions of a youth leader, it is common for them to refer either to ultimate aims or to personal 36 A LIFE FULL OF MEANING qualities, both in very general and frequently imprecise terms. Human history can be said to be only now emerging from the more or less universal belief that leaders were born (usually within the ruling class), however remarkable the plentiful exceptions have proved to be. The traits surveyed by Ross and Hendry range widely —one investigator found 79 traits mentioned in 20 different studies with only 5 per cent common ground.

Another is intelligence above the average of the group, but not so far as to remove the leader from being regarded as a real member. Practical competence (knowing the job on which the group is engaged) is clearly of some importance too, and we can hardly envisage adults engaged in youth work who are totally incompetent in terms of some skill or at least some interest in the things that young people like to do. This need not of course imply high-grade ability in, for example, coaching activities, but research does seem to show that practical competence helps to promote the mutual acceptability of the group and the leader.

Clearly they cannot be ruled out. For example, intelligence lower than the average of the group needs some other powerful and valued attribute if its owner is to be acknowledged as a leader. A man unable technically to measure up to a task he is expected to perform will suffer 38 A LIFE FULL OF MEANING in other ways, in for example, a loss of self-confidence which makes him in turn even less able to perform the task. Are there any personality resemblances among those who "give a lead" in different kinds of groups in different kinds of situations?

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