Importance of acquiring leadership skills for students
How do you visualize a leader as? Someone with a conventionally great personality ordering a bunch of people about what to do, how to do it, being superior in talent and virtues, making rules, and asking them to just follow his/her call? Or a person who can organize different personalities together, make them work towards a singular goal, and ensure the best execution? The possibilities of your imagination are many and will exceed what is mentioned above. Many famous personalities or humans who have been such a figure in your real life might have popped into your mind.
Only some people are interested in leading though and the skills do not come naturally to everyone. Yet, these qualities are emphasized as important life skills that everyone should develop for their betterment. Whether the person is introverted or outwardly human, or an ambivert, to lead is to also be the anchor in any situation that requires you to be in the decision maker’s position, be it for yourself or others. Leadership skills are as important for your intrapersonal relationship as it is with other forms of bonds.
In theoretical language, problem-solving includes – Identifying the problem, researching, analyzing, and decision-making. We figure out how to simplify our daily routine subconsciously with these steps itself. Unlike Thomas Edison who failed 9999 times to refine a bulb, in an era when he had the bare minimum resources to accomplish the task, we are served with tons of information and our life has been way easier with means available in all forms around us. And yet, changing times invite new problems.
With the abundance of information comes confusion and difficulty to gauge reliability. The complications of the 21st century differ from the things that bothered people ages ago. Edison managed to bring technical reformation with curiosity and grit but also because he had developed terrific problem-solving ability with every failure that he faced throughout the process. How good it would be if we learn this persistence and skill to come up with different solutions since childhood, in a way that is also relevant to this era? Immensely! Start them young as the saying goes, schools are the best spaces to sharpen these skills even more.
What constitutes great leadership?
People management skills! It covers everything from having great coordination skills, sound communication, the ability to direct, assign tasks, observe, listen and analyze, and the will to take the initiative. An ideal leader would have all of these and much more than that concerning emotional intelligence. It includes empathy, compassion, kindness, inclusivity, and qualities that help in establishing an understanding with other humans to make the relations better. Moreover, the one who knows how to set goals smartly, is visionary and creates a practical plan of action can accomplish the tasks better.
Being talented or having technical expertise serves well for a person but is not enough to become a leader because being one requires working with the group than executing everything individually. A person can have these qualities and yet fail to become a good leader if he/she does not have the will to step forward, act, and inspire.
Why cultivate leadership skills at a young age?
These skills can be acquired and are a necessity. Nurturing students with these abilities from an early age will prepare them for much bigger situations in life that go beyond the boundaries of school. It may include taking the responsibility for your family, organization, event, or any emergency incident that calls them to blaze the trail. How does gaining experience as a student makes any difference?
- Formation of core values is prominent at an early age: As unlearning becomes hard in adulthood, embracing some life skills is important at a tender age itself. You are never late to master anything new. True! But you also save a lot of time and energy when you start understanding and implementing essential skills early on in life. Curiosity is at its peak and with the help of supportive caretakers, like parents and teachers, if it is nourished well, children can learn how to use it well for their growth.
- Builds self-trust: Facilitating students on how to lead a task or for that matter take initiative, and behave accountably with compassion makes them believe in themselves. Especially, in the case of introvert and shy students who might be anxious to express their opinions, most of them feel that they are incapable of directing a group. Leaders do not have to be necessarily outspoken and have a chatterbox to network. A thoughtful person, who can convey his/her viewpoints to the point can direct as well. In fact, people focusing on more listening can actually head the process mindfully.
- Manage bigger responsibilities with ease: While big is a relative word, it means that students will be able to handle tasks with composure as adults. School events that promote leadership skills include team sports activities, art programs, community engagement exercises, and at most being a monitor or captain.
The ones who grab these opportunities would flourish as managers ahead. But what about those who do not? Many times, students who don’t participate in school, are the ones who explore a lot in college times or tend to open up in spaces they feel comfortable. That being said, it is essential to make the school environment more inclusive where the pupils will feel that they can take lead in different activities that interest them and their unique passions are encouraged.
Instill risk-taking and problem-solving skills: Forging ahead out of your comfort zones to pull up your socks and grow more happens when you take the lead. It makes you vulnerable to mistakes for good. Every failure works as a step toward maturity.
How to develop leadership skills – a brief guide for teachers
Children are best imitators. The key to foster great leadership skills in students is to represent a space that is filled with live examples of how to be one and teachers who walk the talk. Following are the ways in which educators can imbibe
- Reflect emotional intelligence during facilitation: Empathize with students. Try not to give them binary perspectives but go beyond that. It allows them to gauge multiple possibilities. Meanwhile, also showcase accountable behavior.
Acting out of hierarchy and an authority position, denying the loopholes as a teacher does not go well. It influences students to think this is how mentors can move on from irresponsible acts.
- Organize versatile group activities regularly: The activities should promote every single student’s participation. Shuffle the tasks involved in these activities so that the individuals get hands-on experience. Lack of interest and anxiety should be acknowledged while assigning these tasks and addressed constructively. What makes the student shy to do the task? How important it is for him/her to experience it? Ask these questions to them as well.
- Establish discipline: It is a given and educators are well-versed in disciplining the classroom. Avoid micro-management though. It impacts students’ self-belief negatively. Regulation can be done with compassion and healthy boundaries. This influences in them to be great managers as well.
- Include a fair evaluation process: After accomplishing the tasks, involve feedback always. It should welcome all kinds of responses. This constructs better communication skills where the teacher is not indulging in one-way dialogue, but rather an engaging way of conversation that gives importance to everyone’s opinions. That itself is a great sign of leadership.
It is important to remember that, while learning these skills, mistakes are inevitable. While confidence is important, overconfidence can lead to issues, particularly if the student thinks that he/she can handle everything on their own. Asking for help when required is also a necessary habit and hyper-independence should not be promoted at all. Being a leader is not rocket science, but teaching children the skills needed to be leaders are important to make the responsible adults of the future.