I cannot recall a time when the value of developing strong leadership skills has been more evident. The Coronavirus pandemic has tested our collective spirit. Each of us has been grateful to those able to rise up with calm and wisdom to lead us forward. 

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As we hurtle toward an uncertain and rapidly accelerating future of change; as our world grows smaller and more intricately interconnected (as the Coronavirus ferociously demonstrated); as unprecedented volumes of new people, technologies, and ideas spring to prominence on the global stage, we find ourselves desperately in need of care, thoughtfulness, and leadership from a new generation. We need more people with the desire and ability to move their communities forward.

But where do skilled, compassionate leaders come from? How do they learn to lead?

Schools can play a central role. Even very young children have a voice, a perspective and contributions to make. Students of all ages can learn what it means to be ethical and empathetic leaders. Schools can help students build skills that open the door to authentic leadership: effective speaking and listening, social and emotional agility, creative problem-solving and collaboration. Year by year, through practice and abundant leadership experiences, students’ confidence to lead will grow. 

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It starts with a belief: Everyone possesses leadership ability. Schools can begin to awaken their students’ inner leaders by asking the right questions...

How can I be creative? 

When we ask students to ponder this question, they start to see it as a tool. This solution-seeking mindset inspires students and faculty to eagerly take on challenges because it's hard fun to figure stuff out.   

Leadership Skills Developed: Empathetic Problem-Solving, Design Thinking

Who is on my team?

Good leaders don’t go it alone—teamwork is an essential mark of compassionate leadership. Schools can foster an inclusive ethos: When you share a common purpose, diversity and inclusion have great value.  

Leadership Skills Developed: Inclusion, Collaboration

What is the impact of my action?

Building confidence through leadership requires young people to understand the ramifications of their decisions and interconnectedness with local and global communities. When we work to expand our lens on the world and all its people, then we can begin to understand the full effects of our leadership actions. 

Leadership Skills Developed: Global Perspective, Creating Connections

Where will I make a difference in this world?

Character is developed when actions are taken in service to the greater good. When students use their strengths in service to others, they gain confidence and develop their identities as people who have the power to make a difference.

Leadership Skills Developed: Strong Moral Compass, Purpose-Driven Action

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The goal of these questions is to create a learning environment where students’ capacity to lead grows as they evolve and uncover their own interests and beliefs. As students move through this environment and take on different leadership experiences, they become clearer, more persuasive communicators, they learn that collaboration with diverse groups yields powerful results, that creativity trumps most challenges, and that service offers purpose and deep satisfaction.  

It’s true that many students will grow into leaders if left to their own devices. It’s also true that many will not. Schools, therefore, have not just an opportunity, but also a responsibility to help students find their voices and discover the leadership abilities that lie within.

St. Luke's is a secular private school in New Canaan, CT for grades 5-12. St. Luke's mission is an exceptional education that inspires a deep love of learning, a strong moral compass, the commitment to serve, and the confidence to lead. St. Luke's Center for Leadership advances our mission by helping students develop exceptional leadership ability. Learn more about St. Luke's School.


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