Students see leaders every day but can they envision themselves ever fulfilling that role? In recent news, students have been exposed to many world leaders they may or may not have been familiar with before natural disasters, protests, or rebellion brought them in the limelight. They also might engage with leaders indirectly through media, like reading a blog or following a celebrity on Twitter, but do they identify them as such? What about their peers? Is there someone who controls their group of friends? Is it always for the best? Get students thinking about the different types of leadership in their lives by starting a conversation with the following questions:
- What does leadership mean?
- What does being a leader mean?
- What are some words you associate with ‘leadership’?
- Do leaders always have positive influences on people?
- How can you identify a person who leads negatively?
- Does a leader have to be someone well-known? Well-liked?
Get students thinking about the important role leaders play in their everyday life by having them consider someone they consider to be a strong leader, and someone they think is a weak leader. For ideas, suggest they read a national paper, observe a manager at a restaurant or retail store, take notes on the interactions between a group of friends on campus, or look to their own lives. Discuss these leaders and scenarios in class using the six elements that create a foundation for effective leadership:
- Critical and Creative Thinking
- What strength did each leader have?
- What weaknesses did they demonstrate?
- Is there any way in which their leadership styles were similar?
- How did they differ?
- What kept your weak leader from succeeding (loss of respect, poor choices, failure to communicate, etc.)?
- What can you take away from these observations?