A New Understanding of Leadership

A New Understanding of Leadership

By Jeannette Webb 

High on the priority list of college admissions officers and scholarship committees is the badly misunderstood concept of “Leadership.” Most people think they grasp the meaning of it, but I have found that few actually do. Somewhere along the line, we’ve come to believe that if our kid is a member of a leadership council, they are leaders. If they round up a few of their friends and form a club, it’s leadership. If they think of themselves as a leader, it is fact. 

Leadership is not really about chairing a meeting in a safe environment, it is about being a part of the larger world. It is about marshaling others toward a common goal. It is often about taking risk. It is certainly always about growth, both for the leader and those they lead. 

Let’s try looking at leadership from a new vantage point. Perhaps the term “impact” will help us get a better handle on what quality leadership is really about. 

True leadership has an impact on others. 

Interestingly enough, the elected leader is not always the person making the most impact! To determine if true leadership is taking place, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Has your child honestly made a difference?
  • Has someone’s life been improved because of your child?
  • Have they created an original organization?
  • Have they taken an existing organization or structure and improved or grown it significantly?
  • Have they inspired others to catch their vision?
  • Do they care deeply about the activity in question?
  • Are they stretching themselves in this process?
  • Are they stretching others?
  • Have they become an advocate for those that cannot speak for themselves?
  • Have they righted a wrong?
  • Are they networking with adults or community leaders?
  • Is there a chance of failure?
  • Are they so excited about the project at hand that they are entirely self-motivated and drag you along (rather than the other way around)?

A true leader can answer yes to at least a few of these questions. 

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