How to help students be effective leaders

**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**

A guest column by Anita Ginsburg

Effective leadership is a combination of personality, skills and attitude. Although personality and people skills are important, leadership is primarily about attitude, values and experience. Students who develop strong personal values and positive attitudes become natural leaders because other people are moved by them.

Teaching Leadership Values

It is important to understand what real leadership is. A leader isn’t necessarily the boss or simply a person in power or a high-ranking position. True leadership is the ability to inspire others to take positive actions or make changes that they otherwise would not. The power of true leadership doesn’t come from authority. Rather, it comes from personal values the leader displays. The greatest leadership values are perseverance, commitment, excellence, a positive attitude and the ability to overcome adverse situations. Leaders see challenges instead of obstacles. They are always striving to move ahead and do their best, and they never give up on what they know is right.

Providing Broad Life and Community Experience

The more knowledge and experience a person has, the more they will be able to make smart decisions and examine differing viewpoints. The ability to show empathy and wisdom is another hallmark of great leaders. Great leaders tend to understand and respect the differences between people and discover ways to get people working together.

Discovering Interests and Passions

Most great leaders are driven by a passion for something. They are then able to ignite that passion in others who follow them. It is important for any student to find that special thing that drives them and piques their interest. Students often find their passions unexpectedly as they are introduced to new concepts or ideas. It is important to encourage students to explore and step outside of their comfort zones where they might find something they are passionate about.

Making the Right Social Connections

Few, if any, great leaders operated alone. Great achievements are often group efforts. Students that are able to make the right positive connections with both peers and role models are likely to be on the path toward success and leadership. It is important to encourage students to seek out people that will support them and help them grow and learn and to avoid people that pull them down or who don’t care about them.

Encouraging a Quality Educational Experience

A quality education gives young people the skills and information they need to be successful. This is especially true in terms of higher education. For example, a master’s of public policy online can provide students with all of the opportunities and values that help develop leadership. Students entering college may not know exactly what ignites their passions and they may not have all the right social connections. Mostly likely those students are still trying to gain quality experience and may be stepping far outside their comfort zones for the first time. The right college environment allows them to gain the experience, connections and skills they need to become the powerful and influential leaders of tomorrow.

Overall, being a good example of an effective leader and providing students with resources can help inspire them to be more influential leaders themselves.

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