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Developing Leadership Skills for the 21st Century

June 29, 2023
Guest Contributor
SMCS Leadership | LIT camp at ALIVE Outdoors

From neighbourhoods to high schools, every community relies on effective and passionate leaders to help guide them towards a shared vision. That’s why cultivating leadership skills in high school is so important, not only to empower students to tackle challenges head on but also to encourage them to strengthen their ties with their community, and to take a stand on important issues.

Here is an in-depth look at some of the essential skills of a well-rounded leader, how to develop leadership skills, and what parents and students can expect from St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) when it comes to leadership opportunities.

What is Leadership?

Vince Lombardi, one of the greatest leaders and coaches in American sports history, once said, “Leaders are not born, they are made.” The wisdom in this assertion lies in the deeper understanding that leaders need time to learn and acquire new skills, with guidance and support from parents, teachers, and mentors.

The process of becoming a leader requires students to hone different soft and hard skills. Soft skills include learning how to communicate effectively, working with a team, creative problem-solving, and decision-making, while hard skills involve education and hands-on experience in different settings.

A leader who cares about their community is one who also understands the importance of contributing to a greater cause. Great leaders inspire change, are resilient in the face of adversity, and motivate people to work together to achieve common goals.

SMCS Leadership | Outdoor and Experiential Learning Camp

The Importance of Leadership Skills

This incredibly fast-paced digital era has created all sorts of challenges for individuals and communities who are feeling the need to keep up with constant change. Now, more than ever, it is vital to support students in developing the leadership skills they need to become the caring and capable leaders of tomorrow.

Developing leadership skills at a young age helps students to ground themselves in a strong sense of community, and nourish a value system rooted in integrity, honesty, and a willingness to persevere when faced with new or unexpected challenges. Moreover, these invaluable skills transfer to every area of life – from high school through to university and beyond.

Learning to lead with grace and humility in the modern world will have a lasting positive impact on a student’s life and, in turn, on any community that they are part of.

How To Develop Leadership Skills

Adolescence is a formative period in any young person’s life. In order to develop the essential leadership skills needed to navigate the demands of the 21st century, students require a holistic approach to education that seeks to nurture the whole person – mind, body, and spirit.

St. Michael’s College School offers leadership development in the form of formal programmes, experiential learning, service initiatives, summer camp experiences, as well as extracurricular clubs and activities, including the arts and athletics.

Every year, students also take part in the Outdoor and Experiential Education Camp that is specifically oriented towards leadership development. These programmes and activities encourage students’ personal growth by engaging in team-building challenges and experiences that demand cooperation and leadership.

SMCS Senior Leaders at LIT camp

These camps set the framework for students’ leadership training over the course of their time at SMCS. As seniors, students can also participate in a Leader-in-Training certification programme to become more confident in their abilities and focus their efforts.

In addition, students are able to hone their leadership skills in formal leadership and mentorship roles, such as student government, prefects, ambassadors, community volunteers, and peer mentors. In order for future leaders to thrive, they must be given ample opportunity to deepen and practice their leadership skills inside – and outside – the classroom.

Through various programmes and leadership opportunities, students form important skills. These opportunities require commitment and collaboration, which allow students to reflect on their decisions and how they may impact others. With so many projects and activities to work on, students also learn the importance of planning ahead, analyzing outcomes, communicating effectively, and committing to a plan.

Playing a leadership role in their class, club or team encourages students to think critically, to foster teamwork and of course, to make mistakes. Developing leadership skills necessarily entails learning how to handle setbacks or failures. During these trying moments, students learn to be accountable for their actions, so they can adjust, adapt, and continue to grow.

Developing leadership skills in high school has lifelong value. In a technology-driven world that continues to evolve at such a rapid rate, forming thoughtful, engaged, and motivated leaders helps students to feel connected and encourages them to contribute to their communities in meaningful ways throughout their lives. Through an education that seeks to develop a student’s mental, physical, and spiritual well-being, today’s future leaders are better equipped to handle whatever challenges tomorrow may bring.