Today’s students are tomorrow’s citizens”, I am sure many of us would have heard this statement from our teachers while growing up.

Over the last decade, as I was becoming more socially conscious, I heard a lot about leadership crisis across sectors - politics, business, entrepreneurship, academics, etc. I started wondering if we can address this by providing opportunities to students to nurture and hone their leadership skills. This way today’s students can become tomorrow’s leaders.

Core Leadership Skills:

We can come up many skills and attitudes that are critical for leadership and accordingly, design interventions. Some of the most important skills that we can consider are:

  1. Problem solving and strategy
  2. Ability to take initiative
  3. Change management
  4. People management
  5. Multi-tasking
  6. Empathising

Strategies to nurture leadership skills:

A range of things can be tried in schools to develop the above-mentioned skills. Some of the interventions can be classroom-level while the others can be tried at the school-level depending on the need and the choice of the school.

Classroom-Level Interventions:

  • Teaching assistants - who support teachers in making teaching aids, lesson execution, etc.
  • Quiz masters – students can plan to conduct and organise quiz for the class
  • Subject leaders – who specialise to train their peers in their chosen subjects
  • Spelling bee masters – students who can participate and organise spelling bee events in the class and the school
  • Vocab masters - Students who come up with interesting ways of learning vocabulary

Extracurricular clubs/groups:

  • Youth parliament - where students discuss and debate on critical issues related to the country
  • Student council – A key student leadership body that can be part of the decision making of school activities
  • Change makers club - These students can be encouraged to be part of the design for change events
  • Theater clubs – Students can hone their interest in different forms of theater
  • Innovators club - create prototypes for their innovative ideas
  • Sports and games club
  • Green clubs - Plantation, gardening, etc.
  • Class leaders and monitors
  • Public speaking clubs – Platforms where students come together to nurture their public speaking skills
  • Event Managers - Plan and organise important events in the school

How can we make it functional in the school?

Quite often, schools initiate the strategies but fail to keep them running. Here are things to keep in mind to make student-leadership initiatives sustainable:

  • Regular meetings with student leaders by the school leader or designated person in the school. The meetings can focus on knowing updates from the student leaders - what’s working well & where they need support.
  • Sharing success stories of initiatives by student leaders with parents, with rest of the school at the assembly or any other means. This keeps the student leaders motivated.
  • Have a dedicated time allotted in the time table for student-leadership opportunities so that there would not be any inconsistency.

Conclusion: 21st Century requires individuals to build skills beyond academics. It’s a great opportunity for us educators to create better opportunities for students for their holistic development. This will prepare them to assume leadership roles to address the challenges ahead.

(Article Photo: St. Mary's school, Mumbai)