Some ideas when applied have massive outcomes.
US academic Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset idea is a prime example.
Before Dweck came along ‘fixed’ mindsets were the go.
A student was either good at math or not. Ditto for public speaking, art, music, or any other field of endeavour.
So, millions of students moved into adulthood believing that they would never achieve at math, public speaking, art, or music because they struggled at school.
Dweck’s growth mindset idea changed all that. In essence, she said that with effort you can learn skills in any area of endeavour.
This single idea removed a limit on personal growth that has held so many people back.
Mindsets are a powerful predictor of performance
Three decades work immersed in leadership and school culture has reinforced the incredible impact that mindset has on student learning, behaviour, and performance.
Whether a student thinks they can or not, they are correct. If they believe they can achieve, then they most likely will. If they believe they can’t, they’re usually right.
Top 5 leadership mindsets to develop in students.
The following leadership mindsets, when systematically taught and reinforced, leave popular concepts such as gratitude and empathy in the shade in terms of lasting positive impact on students.
1. Speak out!
“It’s very important that those who present themselves as a leader andwant to be a leader, speak like a leader.”
Great leaders are great communicators. They know how to deliver a message clearly and precisely. Yet speaking in front of others is a skill few have mastered.
There’s a mystique surrounding public speaking that’s not deserved. “It’s too hard!”, “I could make a fool of myself” are the types of mindsets that hold many people back from getting on their feet and speaking.
There’s a lot to learn when it comes to speaking effectively in front of others but it’s imperative to start by teaching students to adopt the right mindset. Encourage students to speak up and speak out at every opportunity including in class, at assemblies, community events as well as in front of family, parents, teachers, and school Council.
Remove the mystique, change the mindset, and watch students thrive.
2. Be accountable.
“When you have decided what you believe, and what needs to be done, have the courage to stand up and be counted.”
The accountability mindset is pertinent at a time when many politicians and people in public life avoid taking personal responsibility for their actions.
Accountability is the bedrock of leadership and a key character trait to nurture in future leaders.
Accountability starts with personal accountability before moving onto taking responsibility for the actions of the group you are leading.
From accountability comes integrity, which is a lifelong character trait.
3. Plan Ahead.
“What inspires me is not just who leaders are but what they do. They roll their sleeves up and get to work.”
Effective leaders in all walks of life think strategically. For instance, parents who use a leadership mindset are outcome-oriented, rather than reactive, with their parenting. They think long and hard about the types of children that they want to raise, which impacts on every aspect of their parenting.
Similarly, great school leaders think vision and mission, which they integrate into their daily activities.
The marriage of strategy with action an essential student leadership tool, that’s best established through a plan ahead mindset.
Encouraging students to think ahead, make plans and manage their time effectively will help them become effective, action-oriented leaders.
4. Work together
“As we look ahead to the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
Moving from “Me to We” is a difficult mindset shift, particularly for students who are naturally capable in the area they are asked to lead.
Talented sports people, exceptional actors and natural musicians often struggle to support and encourage those less talented in their teams, ensembles, or groups.
Cooperating with, encouraging, and accepting others are essential qualities of an effective leader.
Thinking of how a group rather than an individual would solve a problem, play a game, or produce a piece of music helps promote a teamwork mindset that is at the heart of effective student leadership.
5. Tune in.
“Leadership at one time meant muscles, but today it means getting along with people.”
Without the ability to regulate your own emotions a leader -whether teacher or student- is at the mercy of their moods and the actions of others.
Similarly, an inability to recognise the emotions of others dooms a person to acting within a vacuum of their own thinking and emotions.
When we systemtically encourage students to tune into their own emotions and the emotions of others before acting, we are helping them acquire a powerful long-term leadership quality that is relevant in any context or field of endeavour.
Developing leadership takes a mindset shift.
Perhaps the biggest mindset shift in student leaders is to come from we teachers ourselves. The shift from ‘only some students can lead’ to ‘all students have the potential to lead’ can be tricky for those stuck with fixed mindsets..
Similarly, the shift from viewing students through a behavioural lens to viewing them through a leadership lens can be problematic.
“Practice makes permanent” so the more practised you become at focusing on the leader in students, the more likely this behaviour will become habitual. Your focus is like an antenna – once set it picks up the same frequency every single time.
How student leadership matters in schools
When students are schooled in leadership from the primary school years the effects are felt immediately by teachers, parents, and students. The cultural shift is nothing short of transformational.
But their real impact of systematic leadership development is felt down the years, long after students have left the school gate.
Leadership development benefits society at large as leaders are needed in all walks of life including in families, in communities, in sport as well as in the workplace and in politics.
The legacy of leadership development is long-lasting with the impacts felt long after students have left school.
Lasting leadership is the legacy of teachers and school leaders who have the courage and the foresight to develop real leadership in every student who comes to school.
Register for our next Discovery Session to find out how the Young Leaders Program can benefit your school. Join the community of schools who receive regular tips and strategies from the Young Leaders team.