Empowering leadership in children

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How to give children the opportunity to find their own leadership style? Read more in this article from one of our partners.

Leadership is about much more than a title.

Thousands of academics worldwide have studied the nature of leadership and tried to differentiate what separates an effective leader from an ineffective one. What’s certainly clear is that character, above all, affects the strength of one’s leadership. If you are trustworthy, humble, honest, reflective and kind – you are far more likely to successfully inspire and lead others.

Ensuring that children end up with professional leadership ‘titles’ in their chosen career should never be our goal. Instead, we should be focused on offering learning opportunities and environments that help students to develop strength of character, and giving them plenty of authentic opportunities to learn about leadership – and find their own leadership style – so that they can lead effectively in whatever context or career they ultimately choose.

GIS: empowering young leaders 

Garden International School is committed to ‘growing great leaders’. By offering one of the most extensive and meaningful student leadership programmes in Asia, they are able to offer genuine leadership opportunities to more than 200 students across both their Primary and Secondary schools. GIS students have the opportunity to lead their peers – and their school community – in ‘strands’ that inspire and motivate them.  

Within each ‘strand’, students have the opportunity to work with students from other year groups and to build their communication, cooperation and delegation skills whilst planning exciting, ‘real life’ change events. From running charity events to interviewing new school leaders, introducing community recycling and co-ordinating musical performances – the GIS student leaders are empowered to really make a difference.

The leadership strands’ 

At GIS, students are able to apply to lead in a wide range of areas (or ‘strands’): ten in Primary, and nine in Secondary! Whatever piques a student’s interest and fires their passion – there will be a leadership strand to suit them. From environmental issues to student wellness and wellbeing, to sporting and community focused-strands to those focused on digital technology – the students are given a broad range of portfolios to tackle.

Each strand has a maximum of 15 students, and is supported by a teacher who helps the children to develop 3-year strategic plans – impressive stuff! And even children as young as 6 are encouraged to get involved in leadership, through the school’s Primary Student Council! 

Throughout the year, they are empowered to make real and sustainable change. Many of the school’s successful community initiatives – from their annual ‘Street Store’ run for the homeless community, to the ‘Drop and Go’ weekly recycling project, to their new ‘Meatless Mondays’ initiative – have all been conceived, planned and led by student leaders.  

Through their leadership roles, GIS student leaders learn the challenges and rewards of leadership. Whatever career path they ultimately choose to follow, the opportunity to have been part of passionate student working groups with ‘real world’ opportunities to plan and enact change is invaluable. 

Through the GIS student leadership programme, students learn that leadership is far more than a title or a badge – it is about taking positive action, and inspiring others to act too

Encouraging young leaders at home 

Even if your child is shy, quiet or introverted, they may well have wonderful leadership qualities. Remember, being a leader isn’t just about being the loudest or the most popular! Quiet, humble leadership is often the most powerful. 

Whatever your child’s character, here are some tips to help bring out their leadership potential: 

  1. Words are power: help your child to build a wide vocabulary that will help them express themselves clearly and precisely. Regular reading is the obvious way to do this, but audiobooks and podcasts in the car are a great way to expose your child to spoken language on a daily basis.
  2. Encourage independence of thought through discussions and friendly debates at home. Talk about current issues that tap into their interests: animals, sports or current events. Whatever the topic, regular discussions will help your children learn to express their views and opinions with confidence – and also learn how to respond respectfully and appropriately when other people think differently from them. For younger children in particular, these skills will translate into better and more cooperative play, since debating and public speaking opportunities can help develop these skills too. For more tips on happy play amongst toddlers, explore our top tips for cooperative play from our Kindergarten Experts at EYC.
  3. Co-curricular opportunities such as school productions, sports teams and even hobby clubs are a great way for children to mix outside of their regular social circle, learn new skills and develop confidence. Many of these also require student leaders – such as sports team captains – making them amazing opportunities for students to learn how to lead their peers. 

4. Charity & community work is a great way to encourage your child to get involved in their local community and see for themselves the intrinsic rewards of donating their time and energy to worthy causes. Experiences like these can also help build key character traits like empathy, humility and kindness.

No matter what academic and professional pathways your child ultimately chooses to follow, knowing what it means to lead others – and understanding that true leadership is far more than a title, but instead a way of being – will help ensure they can positively impact their future. By helping support our children to develop the confidence, character and skills to lead others, we are giving them the opportunity to make a genuine difference in the world.

At GIS, we nurture the leadership potential in every child and offer one of the region’s most extensive student leadership programmes. To learn more, get in touch with our friendly admissions team to book your personalised tour today and see for yourself how we bring out the leader in every student!

Titles don’t make leaders, actions do. Find out how we at GIS nurture leadership potential in your child and how you can do the same at home. #studentleadership #packedforlife #wearegis

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