How do we teach leadership skills?
By: Vanessa Craveiro, Chief Financial Officer
Every group of kids has a leader and they’re usually easy to spot. They’re the kids that are always speaking up or helping in class. They’re the ones getting the other kids excited to jump in the mud. They set their goals, and they get others to help them achieve it. Many of these kids are natural born leaders, inherently charismatic and convincing, but luckily for the rest of us, leadership can be taught.
If you google leadership skills, here are the top examples:
- Problem Solving
- Team building
- Hard Working
There are many ways we can teach these skills at home or at school. One way is by having kids work in a team towards a common goal. You can assign a leader for the team or for a component of the team. One can lead the exercise, another can lead the reporting, someone else can speak for the group. They would have to help their team identify the goal and delegate the tasks. They would need to communicate effectively, work together, and make decisions in order to reach the goal.
Another way is by teaching kids how to set goals. You can set goals for the classroom as a whole or work with kids to set their own goals. These goals can be placed somewhere that’s easily visible and monitored regularly for progress of milestones.
A great way to teach kids how to show accountability is by modeled behavior. When you’re wrong, say you’re wrong. Don’t make excuses, don’t shift the blame, instead take responsibility for your actions and apologize. Encourage kids to do the same and own up to their mistakes. Acknowledge the mistake and move on.
Problem Solving is another lifelong skill that helps students throughout their time in school and later in their careers. Students can be given a list of problems in their community and work together to brainstorm solutions. Then the group leaders can present their idea to the class. They could also have a day of service, where they volunteer at a food bank and learn how they can impact change.
Listening and communication skills are sometimes the most challenging to master, probably more for adults. A great way to learn both is through debates. They start in the earlier grades by debating trivial things like which ice cream is the best or who is the best Disney princess (in my house Elsa wins). Presenting to the class is a great way to practice public speaking and how to deliver a clear and concise message.
Books and movies are a great place to discuss honesty. Pick a well-known character and discuss their life, decisions, consequences, what they could have done differently and what we can learn from it.
In my opinion the most important skills are perseverance and hard work. Sports can be an excellent way to teach determination and the idea of never giving up when faced with adversity. Just watch any sports movie and you’re sure to see an inspirational coach speech. Competition is a great way to set goals, practice resilience, teach encouragement and how to accept a loss gracefully.
Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, or should I say styles. Some are born with it, while others slowly practice and develop these skills. They can be the outgoing charismatic leader or the quiet introvert in the back of the classroom. It's our job to help them develop these skills.