To develop young leaders in the art of influencing others for the greater good, you first have to get them on their own for them to discover their own inner strengths.
In an Industrial Age where everything is mass-produced by design, leadership can only be developed the old-fashioned way, carved out one at a time.
The classroom doesn’t produce leaders, the classroom is a place to dispense information in mass and collect data in mass. For the observant teacher or mentor, the classroom is also a place to identify a leader or two while they dispense and collect information and data.
When I note someone with leadership potential, I’ll look for an opportunity to separate them from the crowd and teach them the art of influencing others.
Leadership can be intoxicating if you don’t keep it under control.
At first, I can see the student pick up the leadership technics without embracing the ethic or motive for influencing others. If they embrace the technic without the philosophy, they will learn to manipulate rather than influence, two completely different outcomes.
Influence creates the best outcome for those that we lead (people-centred)
Manipulation creates the best outcome for the leader (self-centred)
I must admit, getting a little drunk with power is hard to avoid and it’s just first base, who isn’t a little self-centred on the road to self discovery?
It’s the teachers influence that takes the student from self to others, moving them on from first base.
Important to note, if the teacher can’t get the student to go past first base, the teacher has in fact enabled a potential bully by teaching them technics that work to a character that is completely self-absorbed.
Unfortunately I’ve experienced this in the years I’ve spent trying to help young people develop self-confidence. I call it the Judas syndrome. I’ve even joked about it in recent years when I encourage young leaders to help others with the following words..
“When you learn some leadership skills, pick twelve people and try to encourage them in any way you can. Just remember this, one will try to kill you in time no matter how good you’ve been to them” . The student will laugh and give a look in disbelief that anyone would want to hurt you for helping them, until it happens to them.
Then I go on and say “And when the sh*t really hits the fan, all other eleven will abandon you leaving you alone to be crucified, because leadership is a lonely path.”
It’s at this point most students will consider whether they truly want to be leaders or to go back to the crowd, it’s their choice.
As for wholesome leadership, it’s definitely worth fighting for, it’s definitely in decline and the world can honestly do with one more people-centred leader.
It’s worth the struggle