Let’s Learn, Let’s Lead, Let’s Learn to Lead! by Mitali Kulkarni
By Volunteer Mitali Kulkarni, FHI Mumbai
It is often believed certain people are ‘born leaders’. While their personality traits might be such that leadership comes to them as an instinct, does it imply others cannot lead? It may be true that not everyone might be just as comfortable in handling additional responsibilities or effectively communicating within a group. But leadership, much like any other skill, can be imbibed at a young age. Inculcating leadership skills among children is an ongoing process and not a one-time activity. Here are some pragmatic points which can be implemented for developing leadership skills among children:
Leadership Board: Children should be asked to bring photos of their favorite leaders or any person whom they look up to. They should then be encouraged to read and research on the work done by those leaders and then ascertain/determine the qualities that they possess. This activity would be ideal for students from standards 6th-10th. For younger ones, teachers could help these children in finding those qualities. Students should then be asked to collectively prepare the ‘Leadership Board’. They could be provided a cardboard sheet and asked to paste pictures of leaders and below that, write down the qualities that these leaders possess. All the qualities which may be recurring – for example, public speaking skills, motivation, empathy, analytical skills can be jotted down. And then every child can be asked to tell more about what they know about these qualities. This would help them to get to know what drives them to follow or believe in a certain leader and they could further focus on these desired qualities. This Leadership Board could be displayed on a wall in the classroom, and the students could be asked to regularly update it, every time they think that they’ve found some new quality or a new inspiration.
Be your Leader: Once children have derived the qualities of a leader, they should be asked to think about how they can apply these qualities in their own lives. It can be something as simple as reading a newspaper daily to stay updated, or reading books to explore interests, practicing to speak in any language over which they want to gain proficiency. Students should be asked to set their weekly goals and at the end of the week, they should tick off the qualities on the Leadership Board on which they are working. It would give them a sense of achievement or even an insight into their habits. Their results may further encourage them to motivate their friends to follow the same practice.
You speak, I listen: Communication is meaningful only when the speaker clearly speaks and the listener genuinely listens. Many times, people think so much about what they should say next that they do not focus on what the other person wants to say. To avoid such mishaps, children could be divided into pairs of 2 for this activity and they should be given hypothetical adverse situations and be asked to find solutions by discussing them with their partner. After discussion, each child should be allowed to explain the solution shared by their partner. This will enhance their problem-solving ability.
Let us remember that, “Leadership cannot really be taught. It can only be learnt”. For students to truly believe that they can be a leader, we should let them embrace that they don’t need to accomplish anything extraordinary to be a leader – all one needs is to learn to take small steps and the grit to keep going further.