Tricia Karp Tricia Karp
24 February 2015

Leadership isn’t just for the boss

If anyone spoke about what it means to be a leader back when I was at school, I must have been too busy smiling cheekily at boys to have noticed.

I desperately wanted to be a prefect, mainly because it would have made me seem and feel important. That it required anything to do with leading didn’t occur to me. Suffice to say, I ended up having to make do with becoming a Student Representative Council member in year 10. And if I remember correctly, I made it on to the SRC because I volunteered.

Last week, I sat in a special school assembly to watch the primary school leaders be awarded their SRC and house leader badges. My daughter, who’s in year 3, won the vote to be the female SRC leader in her class. Gosh she was proud, telling me she overwhelmingly won the vote (she voted for herself too, just quietly). Not bad going for just three weeks in to the new school year, and in a class of kids about half of which she hadn’t met until this year.

A natural leader? Apparently so, according to her teachers.

After nabbing the front row seat for the badge presentations (I always get to events like these super early so I can take photos without the heads of other parents in my way!) I reflected on what it was these kids had to say and know about leadership.

The school captains spoke and shared these insights with the entire assembly, not just those receiving badges:

  • Each and every one of you is a leader every day, even if you don’t realise it
  • You can be a leader by being a good role model, being open to new ideas, and being friendly to people
  • It isn’t about being perfect; every leader has faults. It’s about giving it a try and giving it your best effort
  • Leaders are people who have insight into the needs of others and the need for change
  • Leaders never give up
  • Leadership is about what you do, not your position
  • As a leader, you might have to give up some of your play time and put yourself last, to ensure activities run smoothly

It begs the question: What if everyone, regardless of their role, considered themselves a leader?

I’m not suggesting there can be ten leaders leading a single team. I am suggesting that each person brings and uses their own unique qualities of leadership.

And, when they’re coaxed out to play – and rewarded – only good things happen (even if they have to give up some of their play time and put themselves last every now and then).

What difference would it make if you everyone in your organisation embraced and embodied the list of qualities cited by the school captains?

And how about you too?

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