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Leaders are born...

Updated: Jan 14, 2023

If you ask the decision makers of education where leaders come from the answer has to be: They are born.

Why would I say that, when everything on the internet, and actual data says that leaders are created, not born? Here is the evidence:

Most schools do not have a leadership program - some independent boarding schools have programs in place, where the dorm proctors are student leaders who lead in the dorms.

Most schools do not value training students or even student leaders - we name captains and student council presidents, without any training program.

Students are nominated to be leaders - in class, we have student groups, and ask them to identify roles we even sometimes define these roles - but then send them off to do the work.

Shall I go on?

The challenge is that we don’t have enough students to support these roles, but we need them - we see students doing everything all the time. I have heard this comment time and again in the teachers’ room - “So-and-so volunteered, it is a shame that no one else stepped up to do this. So-and-so is so busy with everything they are doing.”

Every school has these overachievers. We praise them, as we should, but we often shame others for not stepping up - did we ever think that maybe the system is preventing it from happening any other way?

Where does the problem occur? If we relied on only natural basketball players to field a team, we may not even have the necessary five players to do so. Why is it OK to challenge players to work towards being great by holding practices, training, and camps, but not offer the same for leadership development?

I think great leaders are developed through trial and error, and through guidance. Where are the opportunities to provide this in school, where we train athletes, academics, and even some social and emotional learning through practice, coaching, and instruction?

What would it look like if we trained our students to be leaders?

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