“Leadership is a choice, not a position.” Stephen Covey.
‘Student leadership’ is often, and rightly, promoted as a positive indicator of a progressive and forward-thinking school. But what exactly is it and what might it look like?
All too frequently, position and title are confused with leadership. Being designated ‘Head of This’ or ‘Head of That’, ‘i/c Whatever’ or ‘Director of Some Such’ seem to matter and may wield a subconscious influence over people who see themselves as somehow subordinates. Many schools still have titled roles. Those few, usually Senior students, with titles who stand at public events to speak positively about the school and its achievements gain a number of skills and will remember fondly their time in the proverbial spotlight. But what about the remaining students who failed to make ‘the grade’? As the title of this piece suggests, being a leader is a choice we all have the capacity to make, without necessarily having a position.
The truth however is that real leadership is about influence, impact and the ability to inspire, not about possessing a title. We encourage leadership within our student body at all levels; leadership shouldn’t be a function of a student’s age. We see leadership at all stages in school from FS students leading play activities in their imaginary castle to Secondary students leading CCAs for their peers, all without titles! Leadership is no more evident than in our sports leaders who successfully represent us locally and around the region. Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher summed up this position well: “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves”.
The ability of our students to influence, have impact and to inspire their colleagues in the wider world are life and work-enhancing skills which will in themselves positively influence and impact their future and, no doubt, successful careers.
The more we can do to support our students in taking untitled leadership roles, in the short or long-term, the better prepared they will become for their uncharted futures.
Brian Irving, Head of Secondary