Among the 21st century skills essential in the learners of this generation, leadership skills find a significant place. Leadership is not the display of authority or power but a soft skill that enables you to influence others and take people along to meet a common goal. A good leader builds the nation, society, and the organization. Leadership involves setting standards by role modeling, making decisions, solving problems, and, most importantly, creating more leaders. So why do we look up to a leader?
Let us look into a few common traits that great leaders possess.
Qualities of a leader
Not everyone is considered a true leader. Certain qualities define one.
- Assertiveness: Good leaders are assertive in nature. They show confidence and stand up for what they believe is right. They understand the strengths and weaknesses of the team members and delegate work effectively.
- Vision: They have a clear goal or plan for the future. They are result-oriented, see problems as opportunities, and put ideas into action. Their organizational objectives are well defined. They guide the team in steering towards achieving the goal.
- Interpersonal Skills: They interact effectively and maintain a good rapport with their team members. They are good listeners and are approachable.
- Attention to detail: Great leaders are keen observers. They focus on minute details to produce accurate and precise output. With perseverance and hard work, they lead the team to accomplishments.
- Critical thinking: Leaders think rationally and logically and work towards problem-solving. Rather than focusing on the problem, they focus on the solution.
- Accountability: True leaders take accountability for the task and do not play the blame game.
- Optimistic: They have a positive attitude and see an opportunity in every problem.
- Open-mindedness: Above all, true leaders are open to ideas and thoughts. They respect others’ perspectives and act on them appropriately.
Importance of good leadership
- Good decision-making is the output of good leadership.
- Good leadership skills increase the productivity of the team and the organization.
- You can empower and inspire people and motivate them to excel with sound leadership skills.
- The team’s morale is boosted when the leader is encouraging and supportive.
- It brings a positive change and takes the organization to greater heights.
How to help students improve leadership skills
Not that everyone is a born leader. However, it is never late to imbibe the skills of a good leader. Educators can support their students to develop good leadership skills by adopting certain practices in the classroom.
- Assign group projects/activities
Group projects serve as an excellent opportunity to learn many soft skills. In group work, each student takes up the responsibility of a task, and they work towards a common goal. For instance, the data leader will guide others in collecting and compiling information, while the presentation head will work with others on representing the data as a chart or a digital presentation, and the asset head will work on collecting the things required for the project.
Thus, students get practical knowledge to delegate work to the group members and take accountability for the task.
Additionally, you can incorporate activities such as circle time or debates in your weekly schedule, where the students can imbibe essential leadership skills effectively. Such activities help students learn to communicate freely in the group, listen patiently to others’ perspectives, respect and appreciate different views of people, etc. They also learn to disagree with others politely and manage diversity in thoughts.
- Let students set goals
Teachers can engage in interactions with the students and guide them on setting short-term and long-term goals. Have a periodic revisit to the goals and openly discuss the steps students have taken towards achieving the goals in the classroom.
Thus, students will have a vision about their future and learn to work towards meeting it. The students motivate each other as they interact and discuss their goals openly.
- Make class committees
Make committees in the class and assign responsibility to each committee. For example, the students in the energy conservation committee are responsible for turning off the lights and fans when they leave the classroom, the blackboard/smartboard committee is in charge of operating the smartboard and its maintenance, the cupboard monitoring committee is required to keep the books and other things organized in the cupboard and so on. Assign a leader for each committee and make sure each student gets a turn to lead in turns.
By assigning class responsibilities, the students learn to take ownership of the task and get trained on getting things done by others.
- Allow everyone an opportunity to lead.
Appoint leaders for a short period and offer a chance to every student to be a leader. You can provide them with badges that give them the sense of pride of being a leader. Change the leader every week or every fortnight, depending on the strength of the class. You may have various leadership roles such as class monitor, lunch monitor, class house head, and so forth.
This practice allows every student to display their leadership skills and enhance them.
- Lead by example
Above all, set an example of a true leader. Students always look up to the teacher as their role models. When you display the qualities of a leader—when you are honest, hardworking, assertive, open-minded, and approachable with the students, they replicate the same. During teaching, share your ideas about leadership and your experience as a teacher in leading the class. Such interactions can have a lasting positive impact on them.
Additionally, you may organize guest lectures, seminars, and workshops involving prominent personalities who display good leadership skills, and the students will also follow suit.
Great leaders build the nation. Each student has the potential to be a good leader; it just takes some effort to bring it out. Sound leadership skills can be learned and developed. With conscious effort, we can develop charismatic leaders who will effectively bring out the best in others