We are entering the season of selection and election. It’s time to start filling the roles and responsibilities of next year’s student leadership team. This is such an important time. I encourage my current student leaders to take time to find and raise up the next generation of leaders. It will be part of their legacy (what they leave, when they leave). Finding the right kind of student leader requires looking for the right thing.
One of the first steps toward student leadership is involvement. Involvement shows everyone else that you want to be there, that you want to be a part of what’s going on. Look around for someone who is excited about being involved. It’s difficult to make the jump into leadership from the sidelines. I consider involvement to be the initiation into influence.
But involvement alone doesn’t qualify one for leadership. A great year requires great student leaders. I would consider the following five areas when identifying potential student leaders:
1. The Student’s Character
Just because a student is a person of character doesn’t mean that he or she will make a great leader. But I’ve never met a great leader who wasn’t a person of high character. The character of a person is the foundation that every other part of his or her life will flow out of. Before you start looking at what a person is capable of doing, consider carefully the kind of person he or she is becoming.
2. The Student’s Desire
Does this person even want to be a leader? I’ve met many great students who had no intention of becoming a student leader. Perhaps you simply need to plant the seed and the desire will grow within them. But you can’t force desire. A student in a position of student leadership who doesn’t want to be there is merely a figurehead. Find the student that wants to be a leader. It has to start from the inside out.
3. The Student’s Discipline
Successful leadership starts with self-leadership. Watch to see how this person manages their time. Is this person willing to work hard in order to accomplish a goal or project? Does this person make a promise and then keep that promise? The dictionary defines self-discipline as the ability to “bring oneself under control.”
4. The Student’s Attitude
Determining one’s attitude is the one choice a potential leader gets to make in every situation. Attitude is attributed with being one of the most powerful ingredients in a person’s success. As you keep your eyes open for potential student leaders, examine what type of attitude they display on a consistent basis. Attitude is contagious as well. See how the people around him or her respond.
5. The Student’s Teachability
Often, we’ll look for people who exhibit a high level of aptitude and ability in certain areas in order to consider them for leadership. But don’t overlook a person’s teachability. If a potential student leader is committed to growing and developing and is open to instruction, he or she may be able to learn quickly. Watch out for people who think that they have it all figured out and don’t want anyone else’s help or input. They typically don’t make good team players and have a hard time delegating and involving other people in their work.
In each of these areas, you are looking for potential. Like a scout for a sports team, you want to keep your eye out for people who can blossom and mature in the areas listed above. Oftentimes, it takes more than the ability to see a person for who they are, but to consider the type of person he or she can become.
What else do you look for in potential student leaders?