In this article we will discuss about the importance of leadership in schools.
In any social group, there are two types of members – the leader and the led. The former are the active members, while the latter are the passive members. A leader is always an individual who possesses outstanding qualities of head and heart. By virtue of his higher acumen, he asserts more rules over others. Such leaders are found in every group, every community and every nation. The destiny of a nation depends upon its leaders.
Leadership has greater significance in a democratic set-up, where the entire political organisation is run by chosen leaders of the people. Indian democracy therefore, needs efficient leaders who are sincere to the nation and whose integrity is above board. Education for democracy is incomplete without training leaders and creating conditions in the school environment for inculcation of leadership qualities amongst the best students. Leadership training is thus a part of group-training.
It can be given only in a group. As one of the chief aims of education is to train the pupils in sound leadership and to produce future leaders for the Indian democracy, we shall have to see how we can achieve this end. We shall, therefore, discuss the essential qualities of a good leader, the role of the teacher as a leader, and the measures for training for leadership.
Essential Qualities of a Leader:
Generally, the qualities of a leader depend upon the type of the group and upon the environment. In a school, the criteria for the selection of a leader will vary for each of the types of activities. A sports leader should be outstanding in sports, no matter what his achievement in instructional subjects is.
But on the whole, a good leader must have the following qualities:
Self-assertion, if very strong, leads to feeling of superiority, prestige and position, which is helpful in ruling over others. No pupil of submissive temperament can be a leader. A leader must have a strong will, self-confidence and feeling of superiority.
(ii) High Intelligence:
High Intelligence helps the pupil to solve intricate problems, face difficulties, come to quick and right decisions, reason well, and take the proper stand. Fools make lawyers rich, but wise and intelligent persons gain their ground through their wise actions. Intelligence, when displayed in the class, impresses upon the students and the teachers, It is therefore easy for a highly intelligent student, to be elected as their leader. In fact, intelligent leadership is needed in all the school fields.
Extroversion is helpful in having good social relations, in gaining popularity and in attending to social activities in a high measure, Introverts are drawn inwards, and they are not fit to-lead others.
Industriousness coupled with intelligence makes an excellent leader. Hard work and consistent efforts bring the student in the fore-front, through his greater achievements. The teachers, themselves are impressed by a diligent worker. An intelligent but lazy pupil can gather no mass.
Knowledge of various subjects, talent in certain fields and skill in some arts, over and above what is found normally, places a student, certainly, at the head of the group. A good singer will lead the music group. A good orator will be the chairman of the literary society. An orator can even otherwise win the minds of the followers.
The example of Antony in Julius Caesar of Shakespeare best illustrates this point. Some of the outstanding Congress leaders were good orators. Hitler and Mussoiini were successful leaders due to their power of oration.
A good leader knows groups psychology, the method of persuading others, means of popularity and he possesses a special skill in winning the heart of his followers. A student leader must be able to arouse mass sympathies from the other students. He must be able to arouse emotions in them and control their minds through emotions.
He must also be able to identify himself with the group, so that his followers love him and swear by him. He must be a social figure with pleasant manners and habits. He must bear high morale.
Characteristics of Leadership at Various Stages:
(i) In the Elementary:
In the elementary schools, a leader is the boy or girl who is more self-assertive than others, who sometimes bullies other students, pushes them down and causes disturbance in the normal play. He or she is more talkative and sometimes plays tricks and mischiefs.
(ii) In the Middle Schools:
In the middle schools and at the pre-adolescent stage, diversification of leadership takes place. Some assume leadership in the academic field by dint of greater academic achievements some in play-field and some in certain other activities.
(iii) At the Adolescent Stage:
At the adolescent stage the diversification becomes rather intensive. The scope of leadership widens and the number of fields increases. There is possibly of a majority of students assuming, leadership in one field or the other, such as school subjects, music, art, debates, dramatics, scouting, games, projects, self-government, library organisation, red cross and social service. An editor of a school magazine, a captain of a team a convenor of a school panchayat, a monitor, a prefect, a student librarian etc. are all students leaders in various capacities.
Training for Leadership:
A potential leadership should have some innate capacities, as explained above. These should find nourishment in the form of educative opportunities in the school.
A number of steps can be taken in schools for providing good leaders:
(i) Locating leaders:
Teacher should always be on the look-out for the potential leaders. Students showing marked self-assertive tendency and having normal intelligence or above-average intelligence should be guided properly.
(ii) Teacher’s example:
The teacher himself should present a good example of democratic leadership in his social dealings and in the class.
(iii) Group Activities, Monitorial system:
Group Activities, Monitorial system, scouting, games, N.C.C., dramatics, and other group activities provide sufficient opportunities for the training and sublimations of self-assertive instinct. In these activities students are keen to show themselves off and thus acquire the qualities of a leader. The pupils can be trained to become orators by encouraging them to take part in debates, discussions, symposium, brain-trust, seminars and speaking in the general assembly.
The teacher can improve upon their style of speaking, their pronunciation and their expression. Student-self-government also is a real training ground for leadership in the civic and political field. Group life can be made more enlivening by arranging competitions with similar other groups in the form of inter-school matches, debates and camps.
(iv) Self-regarding sentiment and some habits:
It is the duty of the teacher to see that each child develops correct concept of his capacities and of his role in the society. The pupil must analyse himself, understand and discover his potentialities and try to assume leadership in his best field. Some good habits like sociality, pleasant manners, and pleasant talk should be inculcated at school.
The pupils should be guided to have strong will and determination, high morals and positive thinking. They should be encouraged to read intelligently biographies of great men, not only of one’s own country but also of other nations. This will enthuse them to make outstanding achievement in some field.
(v) Leadership of children:
At the elementary stage, the group is temporary and there is no understanding or identification among members. The only activity in which leadership finds expression is play. Therefore, group leaders are not permanent. A child who is a leader now may become a follower after some time. Whosoever throws a new suggestion about play is accepted a leader so long as that new game is continued.
(vi) Leadership during adolescence:
At this stage, groups become some-what permanent and so leadership is more stable. This period is known as the gang age and group-loyalties are well-marked. Leader influences the group and is unconsciously influenced by the group.
Selection of Group Leaders:
There are some pupils who are temperamentally of dominant type. They have an urge to dominate others, lead others and use their authority. But there are others, who assume leadership not through authority but through persuasion. Still others lead the rest because of their special accomplishment a particular field. The best player is automatically elected as the captain. He need not try to dominate or persuade others.
In brief, the leaders are of three types:
(b) Persuasive, and
It is the duty of the teacher to use suitable means for the selection of group leaders. The oldest method is the nomination by the teacher. The teacher would himself select and nominate the student leader who would work as monitor or prefect or captain or student librarian or editor of the magazine. In a democratic set-up of school; such nomination should be exercised to the minimum.
Election of the student leaders is a better way. It will give opportunity to the students to choose their leader themselves. The specialist type of leaders will automatically be elected, as they will enjoy high esteem due to their high achievement in the respective field. But the persuasive type can sometimes mislead the students.
It has been observed that just before the school elections, some students through persuation and canvassing, manage to get elected and to defeat even better candidate. Understanding the limitations of elections, one of the scientific methods that has been evolved by some psychologists is the ‘sociometric technique’.
It is a technique by which the pupil is asked to state the kind of relation which he holds towards the other members. The responses of each child are integrated and graphically in the group. A pupil represented by what is called a ‘sociogram’. A sociogram depicts the position of each pupil who is liked by majority of other pupils is called a ‘star’. Some are not liked by most of the pupils, and they are called ‘isolates’.
The ‘star’ deserves to lead the group. So a socio-metric device is directly helpful to the teacher to locate the outstanding leaders who would be given special responsibilities, and to discover the isolates who would be pushed up to make greater participation in group activities and to smoothen their temperamental angularities.
A hypothetical Sociogram is presented below:
1. D is liked by A, B, C, F and G. D himself likes B and C. So there is a mutual selection in the case of B and D, and C and D.
2. As D is liked by 5 out of 7 pupils, he is the star.
3. These are other cases of mutual selection viz. A and E, C and E.
4. F is disliked by A, C, E and G. So he is an isolate.
5. There are cases of mutual dislike viz. B and C, F and E. A is next to F as a second-rate isolate, as he is disliked by 2 persons B and G.
Role of the Teacher as Leader:
A teacher is the leader both de jure and de facto. He is the authority before the students, and so it is his right to lead. Again, by virtue of his superior knowledge and experience, he is accepted as the leader of the class without hesitation.
While assuming leadership of the students, he should follow some important principles:
1. Creating right atmosphere in the class:
Autocratic teachers enforce rigid discipline, cramp the spirits of the students, chill their enthusiasm and often create reaction. Such type of leadership is not wanted. Children should not be made over-submissive. They should be allowed chances of expression without fear and hesitation.
Though autocratic atmosphere is bad, the other extreme of having submissive teachers is equally bad. Teachers of weak personality and submissive nature are unable to control the class. They have no guts to lead the class. The best atmosphere is created by teachers who are neither autocratic, nor submissive, but who work as friend and guide to the students.
They encourage students to take up the role of leaders, and themselves becomes leaders of the student leaders. They help the pupils to develop, self-confidence, initiative and emotional adjustment. They enthuse the pupils to assume different roles.
2. Preparation and planning:
The teacher should make preparation for class-teaching and plan well in advance all the activities, so that he is prepared for all the eventualities and he is not puzzled by any situation.
3. Inviting suggestions:
The teacher should invite suggestions from the students as well. That way he will become highly popular, and will enjoy the confidence of the students. He should frequently discuss the organisational matters with the students. He should provide-as much guidance as possible.
4. Providing opportunities:
The teacher should provide extensive opportunities to the students to assume leadership. He should give them recognition for their achievement. He should motivate them to work and prove their special worthy, by engaging them in many-sided activities of the school. House-system, competitive groups, group games, prizes, flags, trophies, and distinctions are the methods for motivation.