Following on from my last book, Ten Conversations you must have with your son, I was invited to write a second titled, Ten leadership lessons you must teach your teenager.
Many talk about the importance of leadership, but should we teach it? Does the world need any more that are hell bent on securing power, privilege or position? What about followership? What about the integrity there is in being a faithful team member?
Then there is the second question of whether leadership can actually be taught. Can we really put in what God’s left out? Is not leadership an inherited skill?
The question of whether you can create a leader is one that needs answering. Research indicates that between a half to three quarters of leadership skills can be taught. The rest are inherited. This is important to realise lest we lapse into the stupor of doing nothing to improve the lives of our young.
However, the type of leadership needed is not a narcissistic quest for significance. Neither is it the self-serving sort of leadership that is endemic in contemporary politics. What society is crying out for is authentic leadership. There is a hunger for servant – hearted leadership, the sort of leadership that sees the leader sacrificing themselves for the good of others.
The perfect time to teach leadership is when we are young and free of the calcified habits that age can bring. It is also vital to tackle leadership skills when young because it can do something to counter grey lives devoid of purpose and an unrelenting dependency on others. A well-designed leadership course can help realise potential and develop resilience. The latter is particularly important in an age where depression is the fastest growing ailment among young people.
As a topic, leadership is attractive – far more attractive than a personal development course. However, much that is in a personal development course can be placed within a leadership course. The two topics are linked. If you cannot take control of your own life, then you are not going to be able to lead others.
Our young need to be challenged to acquire the traits of a leader. They need to be reminded that they are a miracle of creation, that they have unique gifts and abilities that should be used not only to enrich themselves, but society in general. Leadership is not necessarily about conquering a kingdom before breakfast and an empire before dinner. It can be expressed supporting the lonely, controlling the angry and posting an encouraging note on social media. These small initiatives should not be underestimated. Collectively they determine the health of a nation.
In an age that sees schools assailed by accountability measures such as league tables and Naplan tests, there can a temptation for schools to concentrate on those things that are publicly reported.
This would be a betrayal of our tasks of educators. We should not just be preparing our students for an exam. We should be preparing our students for life. A wonderful way of doing this is to introduce a leadership course. Such a course can be taught in the home and at school. If we were to do this, we would reclaim our role as parents and our purpose as educators.