Over the last 12 years I have criss-crossed Australia, and have now been on tour in Melbourne for over three weeks speaking to principals, vice principals/deputies, and educators, as well as parents. All of us want the best for our children. Tomorrow’s leaders are the children living in our homes and the students sitting in our classrooms today.
Given the integrity bust we’ve seen in business and the political arena in the last few years, is there something we can do to assist our young people in becoming better leaders?
Can we help them develop honesty, empathy and service along with the development of their intellectual capacities? Can we help our young people make a positive contribution to society as they leave our homes and hallowed halls?
I have discovered that regardless of whether or not my students become “leaders”, the attributes of great leaders can help them become successful, happy contributing members of society. After all, “What you focus your mind on, you begin to become“.
Below are a set of simple questions and activities you can do with students to help them focus on positive attributes and make the connection between who they are and who they want to be. I have used this method very successfully with students in grades 2-11. There is really no limit to the study of the qualities and characteristics of great men and women down through time. To this day I read biographies and autobiographies of great men and women, people who have contributed to society in a positive way.
Lead the discussion with the following questions:
- What is a leader? What does leadership mean to you?
- Are there leaders in different fields such as sports, science, education, politics, business, math, dance, literature etc.?
- Do leaders in these different fields have something they can teach us about being successful and happy?
- Generate a list of leaders in different fields who have contributed to our society in a positive way (both past and present).
- What are some of the characteristics of great leaders, men and women that we respect? Discuss the idea that it takes a combination of IQ (intellectual qualities), EQ (emotional qualities), and SQ (social qualities) to be a successful leader. Pick some examples from the card to help students understand each area.
- What are the IQ , EQ and SQ traits that these different leaders exhibited?
Develop a running list of the traits your students come up with and keep it on flip charts in front of the classroom. Keep these traits front and center by integrating them into every class discussion that you can i.e. literature, history, science, art, sport and math. And of course add to them as you go along.
Check back in with me and leave your comments on how this activity is working for you and your future leaders.