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Message to Students


I am delighted you are doing a study on leadership, for schools need leadership, particularly the sort provided by you. You have the capacity to influence student values, attitudes and behaviour with an effectiveness that Heads of schools can only dream of.


Some students will not even consider leadership, for leadership enjoys a rather grubby reputation. For example our elected leaders in Parliament are often unpopular, with sentiments such as "make your politicians work - donít re-elect them" being common. There are many within schools who are comfortable in not seeking to lead. There are those who rarely engage in any activity that might risk discomfort. All this might be applauded - for any fool can be uncomfortable if it were not for the fact that some risk sleeping through their lives, of limiting themselves to the drowsy role of spectator. Some like to escape the challenges of leadership with its hard edges in order to live a pillowed existence in which they are stupid with slumber and the engagement in trivial things. I congratulate you for resisting this temptation and for considering leadership.


Donít worry if you are not a super hero; donít worry if you are not necessarily in the 1st Xl. Not all leadership is about heroics. Most leadership is covert and unassuming. It is to be found in the gentle word of encouragement, the helping of another, the steering of a conversation, a suggestion, or some small service. These are tasks that we can all fulfil, and thus any student should give serious consideration to leadership in some form or other. There are some who think heroes are formed in the mayhem and carnage of battle, yet there are heroes who live lives of quiet service and whose achievements are built up over a lifetime (Longstaff, S [1998], quoted in Viewpoint, issue 31, 23 October).


I happen to hold the view that although endangered, leadership is not yet extinct, and that effective leadership can still be found in our society. Itís just that those who are leading are not necessarily in designated leadership positions, and those found in designated positions are not necessarily leading!


I would like to suggest that a leader is not always someone with an impressive badge, significant responsibilities and an invitation to dine with the gods. A leader need not even be someone with rank, power or position. Quite simply, a leader is someone who someone else is following. This means that any of us can be a leader. If our words direct and our actions inspire, we are leading. If we cause another to follow our example, or to follow our direction we are leading. I have generally found that the most effective leaders are those who guide, steer and direct others without them necessarily being aware of it.
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