Saying Goodbye to a Good Friend and Great Leader

Working with a Great Leader is a wonderful experience. It affords the opportunity to study a leadership style; to see how it works in real life; to identify traits and techniques that can help you grow as a leader; and, if you are fortunate, benefit from the mentoring of that individual.

Sadly, though, each of us is born with only a set number of years or days to walk this earth and then we are called home. I recently had to say goodbye to a friend who was, in my opinion, a Great Leader because he lived the traits of great leadership.

  • Commitment: When Steve accepted a responsibility, he committed himself to doing the job well. When he became the Outdoor Committee Chairman for his son’s Boy Scout Troop, he promised that the scouts would have good, safe, outings. When it was time to leave on a camping trip, he had pre-planned the transportation ensuring that every scout had a seat and a seat belt. His was always the last vehicle to leave the meeting place so that he could make certain that no one was left behind. He did the same thing when it was time to leave the campground. At the end of the outing, he did not leave the parking lot until every scout had been picked up by a parent.
  • Lead by Example: Wanting to go backpacking at the Philmont Scout Reservation with his son, he began a physical conditioning/exercise plan and lost a significant amount of weight to make certain that he would be able to make the trek and support the scouts without becoming a burden on them. At monthly campouts, he firmly believed that those who prepared the meals should not have to clean afterwards; and, he made sure that his vision was reality … not by telling others to clean or wash dishes but by standing and announcing that he was going to start the clean up process and asking who would help him.
  • Caring: Steve cared about the boys and his fellow adult leaders. Noting that one of the adults was terribly overheated, Steve took a cold drink to that individual and had him sit in a car with the air conditioning running to cool him down. During that time, he educated that individual about outdoor clothing, helping him to see the value in wearing clothing that wicked moisture away from the body and helping it evaporate quickly in order to keep the body cooler.
  • Knowing How and When to Relax: When circumstances required a serious attitude and focus, he knew how to be both and how to bring others to that same level of concentration. Steve also knew that relaxation was also needed. He had a great sense of humor that never tore anyone down or belittled others. His joyous, heartfelt laugh could be heard throughout the campground and he told jokes, good clean jokes, that brought smiles and laughter to those around him.

At times, Steve was my student. At other times, he was my teacher. Always, he was my friend. I and those he lead will miss him. We say goodbye, for now, with this prayer …

May the trail rise up to meet you;
May the wind always be at your back;
May the sun shine warmly on your face;
When you come to the river, may you cross over gently
and rest in the shade of the trees;

And, until we meet again, may the Great Scoutmaster
of all Scouts hold you in the palm of his hand and give you peace.

Rest In Peace, my friend.

Tom Hoisington is a speaker, trainer, and author whose goal is to provide leaders and potential leaders with tools that empower them to build teams that are creative and cost effective along with a clearer understanding of how personality types interact within those teams. He can be contacted at