Leadership comes in all ages and knows no boundaries. I had the privilege of being invited to join Ohio State University athletes (Go Buckeyes! was the cheer) and Soles4Souls on a shoe distribution to Costa Rica.

The athletes may be from the same campus; however, most of them didn't know one another. The ride from the airport to the "home base" in Costa Rica was relatively quiet and uneventful.

The first day of distribution these athletes began to show the promise of leadership as they stepped up to the plate and interacted with the children, stooped down for several hours to fit shoes, and lift numerous boxes of shoes in the heat.

The second day's distribution was even more cohesive for the team. Each had identified their leadership skills well. Some used their athletic ability and took the initiative to play jump rope or soccer with a group of children longing to interact with these "kind strangers from a different country". Others shined with their organizational skills creating order as we greeted,sized, and fit over 800 children in just over 4 hours.

By this second evening the group had clearly gone from strangers on the same campus to friends. They shared bags of chips, took turns DJing and sharing their musical interests, and showing genuine interest in each other. Leaders take a genuine interest and do more listening than talking. These simple acts show the promise of a true leader.

As we readied the team for a long trek up to the rain forest, fear came out in some of the students. Some afraid of water, others afraid of meeting an unwanted animal. Each student took the opportunity to comfort and encourage the others to overcome their fear. After all, athletes train hard and push through many challenges to overcome obstacles. Fears are just another obstacle that can be overcome by the power of the mind (and some encouragement from a friend). As an onlooker it was truly inspiring to watch each encourage the other. Finally, I was not just an onlooker; but, a recipient of encouragement. I am not fond of ladders. As I approached the first zip of the zip line, There was a vertical ladder spanning about 40 feet high (or I imagined it to be 40 feet high anyway!). Half way up I lost the courage to continue. I quickly had 3 people standing beside me to encourage me. I did overcome and enthusiastically completed the zip line course! That wouldn't have happened had someone not stepped up as a leader and provided the necessary encouragement.

The thing about a leader is sometimes you are leading and other times it's wise to step back and follow the leader. A leader knows when he is capable of leading; but, he also knows when it's best to pass the baton to another leader.

The other ironic thing about leadership is that we continue to develop those skills throughout our life (provided we want to). One of my favorite phrases is "learning should be a lifelong process". Leaders learn. Learners become leaders.

Although these Buckeyes were only in their early twenties, and I only spent six short, enjoyable days with them, I look forward to watching them develop into future leaders.

Author's Bio: 

Royce has a diverse background ranging with experience in sales, management, program director roles, and as an entrepreneur for nearly 20 years. Her entrepreneurial ventures launching nine start-ups have allowed her to develop her skills in marketing, writing, consulting, and leadership. Royce has been asked to speak to groups of up to 200 on leadership, faith, and business skills. She is an active member of Toastmasters and volunteers in her community. Recent highlights of her career include winning a business plan competition on a social enterprise business model, coaching a student who was accepted into the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU), and mentoring at Start-Up Weekend and Ashoka sponsored events at Rollins College.

Royce has written and developed curriculum teaching others how to make productive life choices to thrive, not survive.Royce is currently in the process of writing her first short story and developing several webinars on social enterprise. She enjoys working with at-risk populations and has developed curriculum and facilitated experiential learning sessions to help them break free of unproductive patterns.

She recently published her first book "7 Beautiful Weeks: The Love Affair That Wasn't Meant to Last"