Tired of "student leaders"

<p>While I'm venting - I think it's kind of nutty and counter to good social constructs the way schools obsess about getting "student leaders." There are lots of great kids who are good at things, and who are in fact good at FOLLOWING or helping things happen, without having to be boss. My daughter is a very Type-A individual. She went to Israel on a Bronfman Fellowship in high school - Bronfman selects for "leaders" - and gave a hilarious account of how this group of Leaders could never get anything done well because everybody wanted to be boss. One proof of this was their hideous team-spirit T-shirt which had been co-designed by the whole bunch of them, nobody willing to yield, with decidedly un-aesthetic results. Now at college, my daughter reports that her friends all talk, all the time, trying to dominate the conversations with each other by yelling authoritatively at the top of their lungs and trying to avoid other peoples' interruptions. She enjoys this hugely but I'm a little put off by it... anyway, here's to the Type-Bs, the quiet people, the people who do things on their own or help other people achieve visions, who are good team players. </p>

<p>This reminds me of a great story our rabbi told once about an apocryphal sculling team at a yeshiva. They kept losing their races and finally sent a spy to watch another team's rowing practice. The spy came back very excited. "Now I understand! We have been doing it exactly backwards! In THEIR boat, 12 people row and one person shouts!"</p>

<p>That's very funny. And I agree! College admissions can get crazy. I'm a student, and sometimes I feel like I'm losing sight of what's really important because I want to get into a good college.</p>

<p>Reminds me of a personality profile test we were given at work as part of a class.....DISC.</p>

<p>D "Drive" - these are the leaders....</p>

<p>But, the others are just as important. I remember S being "steady"....these people are reliable, solid in their work ethic, great on follow-through, etc. </p>

<p>I is "influence" and C is "compliance'.</p>

<p>A leader will need people to follow and execute their strategy or the leader is useless. Most leaders aren't good on execution because we're too busy with the next idea or initiative. This is why leaders have to have great delegation skills...and have to have the insight to be able to pick out who to delegate to. </p>

<p>So, I agree....all of this focus on leadership......and you wind up with a school full of leaders who really never learn HOW to effectively lead as adults becuase they can't learn to delegate to the non-leaders (there are none in the school). </p>

<p>A few weeks ago we had a meeting at work where we (my team of 6) were told that we needed to chage our mindset about our jobs because our company is having such a bad time right now....too many of us are used to being leaders and delegating the work out. Now, the delegees have all been laid off. Who's left? The leaders....and now we have to do the work that we used to hand off to others..... We were basically told that if we can't roll up our sleeves and dig in at the "workng level" we should look for other jobs because only those of us who can adjust beyond the leadership roles will survive.</p>

<p>Cedronella,
The kind of "leadership" that your daughter described is not what I think that leadership is. I also don't think that most colleges' ideas of leadership is that type of person.</p>

<p>I think that those "leaders" are what, however, many young people think that it means to be a leader. True leaders, though, don't need to always be in charge. They can inspire others to lead when others' skills are what's needed. Their overall goal is not to be #1 but to assist in getting things done in an organized way in which others talents are used and the end product is ethical and of value.</p>

<p>I think we need all types as well. </p>

<p>One thing I like on sports teams here, is that it is a collaborative effort. That is a nice benefit to doing group sports. </p>

<p>I also think the word leadership when defined as part of the application process should be interpretted by applicants more widely. Leadership does NOT mean a title like captain, director, chairperson, necessarily. </p>

<p>A leadership type quality can be taking initiative about something and taking action about something. I can think offhand of something my older D did where she was not elected to be officer or anything but she felt strongly about an issue and researched it, formed a committee of three which in its second year was a committee of one and wrote a policy for the school and presented it to faculty and school board and it was passed. That is not the same as the way a lot of students think that leadership is defined for applications such as a title of a club or team or some such. Leadership can be initiating some kind of volunteer thing you care about. </p>

<p>I also don't think leadership is the end all and be all. I think kids should do activities they enjoy and take on whatever role they care to within it. I don't think the goal is to attain some title. I think it is to achieve personal goals. </p>

<p>Most of the sport teams my D has been on had no captains by the way. She has held very few "titles" but I define leadership more broadly. </p>

<p>I also think there is a place for those who follow as we cannot have all leaders. The goal overall should be collaboration. In a collaborative effort, each person plays a role. Some roles may be bigger than others and that is ok and each person should take on whichever role fits their personality.</p>

<p>Susan</p>

<p>Northstarmom, I did not see your post when I posted above but I obviously feel the same as you!</p>

<p>Northstarmom is right, and the OP's post just reveals a particularly silly anecdote. There are plenty of schools that are not looking for leaders, so there are plenty of places for "followers" to go, but the top schools are, and that is just a fact. Yes, they sometimes make mistakes and sometimes applicants misrepresent themselves (or even lie), but when I compare the TRUE leaders among kids I have known and worked with to the nonleaders, the difference is phenomenal - like night and day. And as NSM said, the BEST ones know what true leadership is - and can lead by motivation, inspiration, etc.</p>

<p>But the rowing story WAS funny!</p>

<p>momsdrean, DISC is very similar to the C(reative)-A(dvancer)-R(efiner)-E(xecutor) team model recently making waves in management circles. </p>

<p>To be effective an organization needs a good mix of various types to be effective. I was tested and found to be a creator-advancer type person. However a team of my type would soon become a puddle of retarted!</p>

<p>But what I have observed with students is that most titled leadership boils down to little more than a popularity contest. A student becomes "President" of the widget club and he/she merely makes sure things go along like years past. That aint leadership. The captain on the football team is the most athletically talented senior. A student gets permission to start a model RR club that meets a few times a month, limping along with 5 other "members". Y'all get the point.</p>

<p>Now show me a student that starts a Gay-Straight Alliance after the Matthew Shepard murder, establishes a dialogue group with the Muslim Community after 9-11, or forms a steering committee which gets a frisbee golf course installed in a local park and I'll show you the makings of a leader.</p>

<p>I have never been on an AddComm but I would wager that 75-90% of student leadership described in the applications can be largely discounted. Perhaps I am being too harsh because I know that one of my sons classmates seemed to have wonderful leadership skill but he only put them to use in the mundane SGC type activities. I would have loved to see what he would have done if he had taken some risks with his abilities.</p>

<p>"However a team of my type would soon become a puddle of retarted!"</p>

<p>Yep...imagine combining that with an employer who states that layoffs will take place quarterly and ranking will constantly be adjusted to reflect latest accomplishments. Place 6 "leaders" in that pool and watch them all try to drown one another in a contest of survival. "The Apprentice" has nothing on this stuff.</p>

<p>I agree with you about leadership being discountable on apps. How many times have we heard the kids on CC say "just start a club and name yourself President!" I cringe when I read stuff like that because it gives my son less credibity for being President of an Teen org with an adult oversight arm that requires that his teen members submit grant proposals, operate strictly by Roberts Rules, raise money for charity, adjust and follow bylaws, travel to conferences, make speeches, compete for awards, attend monthly meetings, adopt and carry-out National initiatives.....and he had to motivate dozens of kids to do all of this. He, as President, also has to attend all of the adult EBoard meetings, submit written and oral reports of his group's activities and take their feedback...good and bad...back to the group. Meanwhile, some other kids throws up a website in an hour and calls himself CEO of whatever just to have a "leadership" check mark on his app. Who knows the difference?</p>