“A leader is made, not born.”
The classroom went silent as the teacher asked the dreaded question, “Who will volunteer?”. She was referring to the class monitor position of the new class of the new year. All the students kept looking everywhere except at the teacher for fear of being picked. In the far corner of the classroom, a small boy timidly stood up.
“Teacher, may I volunteer?”.
The entire classroom burst out laughing.
“Him? The tiniest boy in class?” “Ha Ha Ha! What can he even do?”=
The teacher silenced the classroom sternly.
“Joshua volunteered. And that is more than any one of you did. He displayed one of the most important leadership skills right now: stepping up to take a risk and volunteering when no one else did. I will appoint him as the class monitor.”
Little Joshua, in this situation, is a great example of a leader being born. Before delving into this story describing leadership skills and how they help the leader’s role, one must know what a leader is and what leadership skill is.
Who is a leader?
The most obvious answer to this would be a person who leads. However, the word ‘leader’ holds more meaning than it shows. One cannot limit the description of the word to any certain length or depth. A leader can be explained in countless ways. For example, some may say a leader is someone who leads the way for a group of people who follow. Others might define a leader as a model person who will set an exemplary setting for people, and some others yet might even go to the lengths of choosing a leader that has more experience on a specific area or subject than others in a group. This shows that shaping leaders can be depicted in numerous ways yet what they all have in common is that they possess the power to guide, lead, influence, and even change situations and people.
The reason for leaders being defined in various ways can be owed to their various leadership skills. These skills will stand out and highlight the different kinds of leaders present in the community. What are leadership skills? This a commonly asked question and once again this too has no defined answer but there are some common answers can help understand the concept of it. Leadership skills are not abilities that one is born with. On the contrary, leadership skills are acquired and developed in a person over time. This also implies that a leader can be established within anyone, with the right skills and attitude. A leadership skill is an ability or a strength that one displays in situations that guide people or encourage a group towards a common aim.
Reflect from Joshua
In little Joshua’s situation, he clearly demonstrated one of the important leadership skills taking risks. Despite facing jeers from his classmates, the timid boy volunteered for a leadership role, bravely stepping up, despite being new to the position. This was Joshua’s first step in developing leadership skills within himself. As time passed, he encountered numerous challenges in fitting into the class monitor role. Initially, Joshua’s classmates constantly teased him for his shyness, but he began gaining confidence. Recognizing that being timid would hinder his progress, Joshua adopted a more confident attitude, which gave him leverage over his classmates.
Adapting to a new role is another significant role in a head person, which Joshua gradually thrived. The came his testing time, when the entire school signed up for a competition that will choose the best classroom of the year. Everyone turned to Joshua for advice, and surprisingly enough, he was ready and set to go with a big plan in his mind. All the classmates and the teacher were baffled to find the hidden leadership talents of Joshua and his immense creativity. He had designed a theme and new designs for the classroom noticeboard and wall hangings. He carefully assigned everyone separate tasks and the battle to win the title of the best class room began. The teacher was extremely pleased with the efficient division of workload by Joshua to his classmates because it revealed that he identified the group’s abilities and gave them suitable tasks accordingly.
In this well-known approach, they aimed to get work done properly and quickly. As the day drew near, one student fell ill and couldn’t complete his task on time. Unfortunately, he had been assigned the crucial task of building a unique attendance board for the class. Once again, Joshua, the class monitor, stepped up, taking on the project and making it himself quickly. He knew that waiting for a new volunteer would disrupt the work schedule and break the assigned time slots.
Finally, the day dawned, and everything was arranged and ready to be presented at the competition. The judges were very pleased with the decorations. When they questioned Joshua, he confidently explained his efficient work assignment, good time management, and creative ideas used in making the classroom what it was with his classmates’ help. Impressed by his visible leadership skills, the judges decided their class deserved the prize. After all the victory celebrations, Joshua’s classmates presented him with a small token of appreciation for guiding them well. His class teacher also praised him for being the best class monitor she ever met, despite his initial unfamiliarity with the role’s duties and responsibilities.
Message for everyone
Little Joshua and his story of success of a truly epitomic situation which brings out that a leader is present within everyone and developing leadership qualities, attitudes and skills is the best way to bring it out. Time, practice and adaptation can ensure anyone can perfect these leadership skills. If timid Joshua could become the confident class monitor that lead the to win the best classroom title, you can be the next team leader to guide your group through a victorious project. If little Joshua could develop new skills and gain new experience, you can also gather new talents and practice along the way, which can help your future. No one is born a leader, but anyone can become a leader.
AIESEC in University of Colombo