Leadership Development Homework

Each Sunday night I send an email to faculty and students at the Senior School. The focus is always related to personal leadership development consisting of an idea to consider or reflect on and then some action to take. Topics are always related to the three main areas of focus for SMUS leadership development program: understanding yourself as a leader, engagement, and developing skills to lead others.

While leadership development is embedded in so much that we do at SMUS, it is built in specifically and intentionally into grade programming to ensure that all students are being exposed to and support through their own growth as leaders. Beyond that, opportunities are limitless for students to continue to explore and take topics to a more personal and deeper level.

On Wednesday, while the Grade 11’s were out of chapel, the entire grade met in the single gym for the first of their several leadership development sessions. While I won’t go into detail about the session, it did result in a few students coming to speak with me afterwards hoping to get some more personalized information. They were either interested in being better leaders or hoping to understand what to write about on university applications, or both.

The lunch time was not quite long enough to fully get into our conversation so I was able to find time to meet with the students in the next week. In the meantime though, I gave some “leadership homework.” How fun right?! But seriously, there are not always clear answers or a helpful formula. Leadership development is a practice which is ongoing and it takes consideration, personal reflection, time, and commitment.

This work is important no matter what stage each person may be at.

Answer the following questions – point form to essay format….whatever works for you.

Ideally write in a journal, book or create a document that you can refer back to and add as needed:

1. Who are you as a leader?

There are several ways to look at this:

  • What are your strengths? Check out these  strength descriptors and choose three that you feel suit you well.
  • What is your personality and your natural preferences that may impact how you interact with others. (How do others describe you? How would you describe yourself?)
  • What is your “leadership style”? This website provides a very simple look at three distinctive styles: http://psychology.about.com/od/leadership/a/leadstyles.htm
  • Who are some leaders / individuals that you admire? What is it about them that you admire? How does that reflect your personal aspirations and values.

2. How are you engaged in school / work / community life?

  • What areas of school / work / community are you involved in? (Remember, you do not need to be involved in a million things to be considered to be engaged, you just need to be involved in a meaningful way).
  • How do you make a contribution in those areas?
  • If that is a hard question for you to answer now… Consider: how can you make a positive contribution? Where are gaps to be filled, problems to be solved….? How can you step forward?

3. What skills are you acquiring to lead others and what skills do you feel you already have?

Some examples of important leadership skills may be:

  •  Collaboration – working within a team
  •  Ethical decision making
  •  Communication skills
  •  Conflict resolution
  •  Commitment
  •  Grit / perseverance
  •  Innovation / Creativity
  •  Ability to inspire others / creating a plan with a vision

We are breaking for the long weekend. Often a rainy day is the perfect opportunity to reflect on these three big and important questions.

Enjoy!

strength descriptors

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Becky Anderson
Becky Anderson is Director of the Junior School. She has also held the position of Director of Leadership Development at SMUS.

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