Leading by Following

A photo of Killian Weston.

Whether you’ve been rehearsing for a few months already or don’t get started until an August band camp, keep the following ideas in mind regarding student leadership.

All Members

Not all student leaders are given a title (such as captain, section leader, rank leader, or sergeant). Every student—including a rookie—is a potential student leader. The group will perform better if every member works hard, stays focused, practices outside of rehearsals, and otherwise leads by example.

Veteran Members

Veteran members without titles can also lead by example; they can also show their support for those who do have titles. Guards with huge potential can struggle or fail because the members would rather fight against a captain or staff. Part of being a leader is putting the team first and being a follower when necessary.

Named Student Leaders

If you have been given a title, remember that you’re still a student first. Your primary reason for being a member of the guard should be to learn and grow. Being a student leader doesn’t mean you know everything. Continue to be an example of the focus, dedication, and work ethic that’s expected of all members, and do your best to stay positive—especially when it’s hard. Your job is to serve your team, not the other way around. Make sure that everything you do is best for the whole group, not just yourself.


Your student leaders are still learning from you. Don’t give them a title and turn them loose. Teach them to be a good leader throughout the season. Clearly explain your expectations and hold them accountable. They will make mistakes. Help them avoid the same mistakes in the future.

About author

Killian Weston

Killian Weston is a color guard instructor and designer in southeast Michigan. She began performing with her high school marching band in 2002 and continued with college marching band and collegiate winter guard. She has taught several guard units and is a prospective judge in the Michigan Color Guard Circuit.

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