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Congratulations! Not only are you about to enter your last year of school but you have been honoured with a leadership position which is both exciting and perhaps a little scary.
Being a school leader comes with all sorts of challenges - how to establish yourself as a leader of difference, how to communicate with your head of school, teachers and peers and how to be the voice of the student body; a representative to the broader academic and family community.
You might find you have big shoes to fill - particularly if last year’s leader left a strong and lasting impression. In other cases you are building a new approach to student governance for future leaders to follow.
Whatever the circumstances, it’s important to remember it was YOU who was chosen by your teachers and peers to take the school into a new year of progress, which means that not only do you already have what it takes to be a leader, but there is no need to change who you are. More specifically, while being a school leader looks fantastic on your resume when it comes to applying to overseas universities, it also provides you with an opportunity to expand your skill set and grow as a student who may wish to pursue other leadership positions in the future. In other words, it is not attaining the position but rather what you do with it that matters.
So what are some key motivations to consider while you are anticipating the exciting year ahead? Here’s some ideas to get you started:
Was it your friendly manner, inclusiveness, dedication to student council or great talent at public speaking? It was probably a combination of these things and other characteristics which saw you honoured with a leadership position. Whatever assets you bring to the position, make sure you approach all tasks with honesty, transparency and integrity. In doing so you will nurture openness in your student cohort.
Seek the opinions of others, connect with your fellow leaders and captains, communicate with your head of school and other department heads and remember every time you speak to a greater audience, you echo the philosophies of the school you are representing.
All great leaders understand that they are part of a collective and that their success lies in their ability to foster, support and empower the team around them. If you have a co-leader or deputy, delegate and share your position wisley. Your last year of school is a busy one so broadening responsibility when appropriate is both considerate and practical.
Your positivity speaks volumes about the psyche of your school. Your confidence, generosity, pro-activity, inclusivity and authenticity will impact the attitudes of others. Part of this positivity also means being ‘visible’ and accessible to your peers and teachers. Remember every voice at your school from your Principal to a Year 7 student deserves your regard and consideration.
Be willing to listen, learn, unlearn, rethink. Attend leadership conferences, make relevant connections and listen to the advice of past leaders and mentors you admire.
An entrepreneurial attitude goes a long way to both your own development as a leader and the way you present yourself on your university application. Encourage your leadership team to think creatively and innovatively - while tradition is incredibly valuable, new approaches can make a real impact on your leadership year and the school as a whole in years to follow.
Sometimes it can be difficult to be a collaborative leader who encourages feedback and contribution, and there may be occasions when you have to ‘make a call’. Remember you were chosen as a leader for a reason - so trust your intuition and approach problems with the wisdom of your conscience in mind.
Your final year at school is an exciting one - but it can also be stressful and exhausting, especially during exam time. Take time out when you need to, monitor your health and commitments. By managing your own energy levels you will not only be able to fulfil your role to the fullest but you will also set effective time management examples for leaders to follow.
This blog was written by Kim Scott, a parent of a Crimson Education student who has received offers to schools such as Stanford and Princeton.